GRU’s Leadership Meeting Brought Excitement for the 2018 Season!

Grand River Union is getting ready for the 2018 season! While there will not be a KW United team to watch and cheer for this year (unfortunately!), that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of things planned! We had our first leadership meeting on January 31st, where we did some brainstorming about what the future will bring.

At our leadership meeting we spent some time to reflect back on KW United and the fun we’ve had supporting the team. Many of our members have been following the team IMG_20180131_211721_919.jpgsince it began in 2010, and will always think fondly of the good times and the many talented players that worked their way through the KW United system. We will certainly miss cheering for KW United FC this year; having a club to support in our region has been a great way to mobilize local soccer fans and bring us all together! Yet, Grand River Union is bigger than any one club, and we are excited about the many opportunities we have to continue to build community in the 2018 season!

Most of our meeting was spent discussion the future, and what we have planned! GRU is hoping to take steps toward creating a more formalized structure for the group; we want to be ready for the Canadian Premier League when it comes. There was even some discussion around forming a Supporter’s Trust to ensure some local ownership of our local team! One of the biggest lessons of the meeting was the amazing level of talent and experience that resides within our members; we will continue to look for ways to allow everyone the ability to contribute in their own way.

Presentations were made on a few of the big events coming up in February and March. potatoblitz.jpgGrand River Union will be hosting a Potato Blitz Toronto FC viewing party to fundraise for House of Friendship on February 20th at the Edelweiss Tavern, as well as a bus trip the following week for the second leg of the first round of CONCACAF. A number of GRU Footy tournaments are in the works, and we will be doing a Michigan trip again this year to spend time with the Boarding Crew; a fantastic Supporter’s Group that cheer for the USLDPDL club Derby City Rovers.

Perhaps our biggest event coming up is our KW Syria United Fundraiser on March 4th. syria.jpgGRU will be hosting a tournament at Cameron Heights Collegiate, staring at 4pm. We are encouraging people to support the event through our GoFundMe campaign, as well as come to the event to cheer for the players and show support for our local Syrian refugees. All money raised will go to supporting KW Syria United, which provides a place for Syrian youth to stay active and become more engaged in their community. This is an important part of our community, so please come to show your support!

Details about all of these events can be found on the events tab of our Facebook Page. Make sure to check in often, as new events are continually being added!

You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram, as well as subscribe to our email list to stay updated on all things Grand River Union!

A Voyageurs Bus Trip – Canada vs. Jamaica

When word first broke that Canada would be coming back to BMO, the response was immediate; Grand River Union would be there! We knew we need a bus for this one. With the CNE and so much else going on, it seemed the perfect match.

We worked with the The Voyageurs – Grand River group to see how many could go and gathered a couple of different options. In the end, on September 2nd, we had about thirty of us meet at Fairview Park Mall to take the bus down. We picked up 6 more at the Guelph stop and everything was running smoothly until we hit typical TO traffic.

We still arrived around 3PM with the end of the Canadian Exhibition Airshow flying overhead. It was a family friendly crew as many kids had come along to take in the festivities. Seeing the Snowbirds swoop above Lake Ontario was a great way to start the day off!

After that, our band of soccer supporters separated to take in different events and activities going on in the city. Some went and hit up the midway, others jetted down to catch the Voyageurs at Shoeless Joes.

At 6:30 we all piled into our section. Our numbers had increased, as those GRU members who couldn’t take the bus were able to join us for the game. There were over 54 of us squeezing our way to our seats. We handed out 75 GRU Voyageurs shirts, spreading the excitement that we all feel for the CPL and the Canadian National Team.  At halftime, we had a good group of locals who came down from other sections to say hi. Seeing our region represented in two solid rows of support was fantastic! We ended up in section 114 and although there was a large crowd in front of us that mostly stayed seated, our area kept on our feet joining any chants from Eli Zeldin and his crew that we could.

The whole thing felt like a family gathering, with supporters from all across the country mingling and joining in the fun. GRU was the largest canPL SG present, but there were representatives from Hamilton, Halifax, Mississauga, and even Saskatchewan! Many of us are drawn into the soccer culture because of the sense of togetherness, and this was felt strongly as our Canadian men put their best out on the pitch. Of course, watching Canada come away with the solid 2-0 win was another huge plus for all in attendance!

Sadly, the ride home turned out to be extremely difficult! Lakeshore was packed with vehicles and lots of sections were blocked off. We ended up not getting on the bus until close to 10:30; after a hardy CANADA chant, most of us slumped into our seats to fall asleep on the ride home. Yet, despite the late night, it had been a fantastic day for everyone involved! The day was beautiful and it was great to see Canada in Toronto again. It was great to be with the The Voyageurs – Grand River and hopefully we can have many more bus trips in the future.

We Marched, We Sang, We Celebrated: GRU’s CPL Campaign has Officially Begun!

Members of Grand River Union met at Ethel’s Lounge on May 28th to toast the 2017 season and prepare for supporting KW United in their quest for glory. We had a great turnout, with many new faces who are excited about supporting the local team while helping to push for our own local professional soccer team. Josh Brown from the Waterloo Region Record came to join us, spending time talking to different GRU members and finding out what we’re all about. Once we were all gathered we marched to the stadium, singing proudly and showing our colours!

As we marched into the stadium, we sang our new local anthem:

Grand River Jingleheimer Schmidt; this team is your team too!

Whenever we come out, the people always shout:

Grand River Jingleheimer Schmidt

LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA

 

We sang and cheered for most of the game, and were not disappointed in our team, who gave West Virginia Chaos a thorough drubbing, final score: 3-1. Many GRU members came with their own banners and flags, and our massive Grand River Union banner proudly spread across the front of the stadium railing. Reports hold the crowd to have been just shy of 1000, which is a fantastic turnout for a PDL team!

After the game, we presented Wesley Cain with our MVP paddle. He was a force to be reckoned with on the pitch, contributing defensively and offensively, not to mention receiving credit for assisting both of the second-half goals. Cain is a local boy; he was born in Guelph and spent his youth playing local soccer before leaving to Vancouver to further his dream of going pro. Keep an eye on him: he has the grit and passion to make it big-we may see him back suiting up for our professional squad when the Canadian Premier League features KW United ripping up the league!

After presenting Wesley Cain with his MVP paddle and talking to the various players and congratulating them on their victory, GRU headed to the last event of the day: our launch party! We were happy to welcome Jamie MacLeod, Voyageurs; Jeff Hughes, KW United Community Liaison; and Barry MacLean, KW United President and Owner. Adrian Martin acted as the MC for the event, doing a fantastic job making sure everything ran smoothly. Nathanael Martin opened up the event by talking about who Grand River Union is and what we want to accomplish. Nathan told the crowd that we do not only want to campaign for a local canPL team; we also want to support local soccer in every way we can and build community!

Jamie MacLeod came next, talking about the broad movement of soccer support across the country. He explained how “before the league was even announced, we had almost 12 or 14 different supporters’ groups stretching from Halifax all the way to Victoria”, which shows “a desire in this country for something that’s ours”. MacLeod let us know that we are not alone, there are people all across this country who want to see soccer flourish! He also proclaimed that one of the most exciting things about this coming league is that it is “ours, and we will control our own destiny”! He talked about how we can continue to contribute and make a difference in building our soccer community, including getting involved directly with a local Voyageurs. Jeff Hughes then talked about KW United specifically, and how the support for the team has grown over the years. Hughes started with the club simply as a supporter wanting to come out to local games; this grew into a love for the club and the volunteer position of Community Liaison. Everybody in GRU can tell you: Jeff has been hugely instrumental in pushing momentum, and he is a huge asset to us, always helping us to connect with the club! Jeff shared his heart for the team, believing that “it’s something to share and grow”, because of the community impact that the club can make. He explained how soccer is “more attainable and accessible for our kids to aspire to” when they have a local club they can look up to.  “Many times”, Jeff told us; “I’ve had parents come up to me and say I’ve stayed in the sport another year because of the connection with this team”.

Last, but certainly not least: Barry MacLean talked about his passion for the club and made himself available for some Q&A. Before the Q&A, Barry explained how the club was meant to bring the community together right from the beginning; even “the way the logo was designed was to represent all four communities”. Barry explained how the name “United” came from the Cambridge youth club, and the crown on the logo “was to represent the royal city in Guelph”. Although the communities have not come together as much as could be hoped, Barry is optimistic that “the advent of a CPL franchise; that can be the catalyst to make that happen”.

Barry also talked about the success of the club. He told the crowd how there are “more than twenty players who have gone on to play professionally”, there are “two coaches; Chris Pozniak and Stuart Neely, that left the club to go on to professional opportunities”, and “we’ve had an executive who’s cut his teeth here, and is now general manager in Orlando in the MLS”. KW United has also won the PDL championship in the third year of operations; “that’s 80 teams across North America: not an easy task”.

One of the biggest questions that the crowd had was around stadium plans. Those present completely understood when Barry said the stadium is going to be “a key piece to whether this group manages a CPL franchise”. Yet Barry is optimistic, and is not insistent on any one direction for stadium possibilities. “Whatever makes sense for the entire region”, Barry explained; “we want to be connecting people, we don’t want to be dividing them. It doesn’t matter to me if we play in Waterloo, if we play in Kitchener, if we play in Cambridge, if we play in Guelph: we just want to play”! Barry was asked about the possibility of playing in Alumni stadium in Guelph; while he didn’t rule it out, he explained that “we want to get a stadium that actually looks like a soccer stadium. Ideally from my perspective we want a stadium that has no track, that the stands are close to the pitch so the fans can have a proper experience” (this caused a cheer to go up from the listeners).

The determination for the team to rise to the CPL was clear from all who spoke and attended the meeting. Barry encouraged us by saying “there isn’t anybody who is part of the CPL group that’s deciding on franchises that doesn’t recognize the power of KW right now. It is the dream city”. We couldn’t agree more Barry! We will keep pushing for a CPL team in our region; in the meantime, we will keep supporting local soccer in whatever way we can!

Sergio Camargo, Jay Chapman, and Oyvind Alseth came to the meeting from Toronto FC, and Liam Callahan represented the KW United players in their support of our CPL campaign; we all had some great opportunities to talk to the players and discover what they loved about the KW United club. It was a great day, and a great way to start the season!

Head over to our shop to purchase season tickets and scarves!

To read Josh Brown’s article on Grand River Union, follow this link.

To connect with the Voyageurs, follow this link.

To read a summary of the game, follow this link.

GRU & KW Company Roadtrip!

bus.jpgGrand River Union Supporters partnered with KW Company for a bus trip to the Toronto
FC home opener and had a whole lot of fun doing it! We had a full bus of soccer fans heading into Toronto; after picking up a small Guelph contingent, the bus drove to Shoeless Joes where we were able to join in the revelry of the large amount of Toronto FC fans that gather there before a match each week.

Although the rain drove some people off-GRU and KW Company were not put off and joined in the march to the stadium. KW Company sported a fantastic sign, and GRU came prepared with a large banner that two of our members diligently prepared. We were able to unfurl the banner right in front of a TV camera, and were also able to drape it near the south end.

banner.jpgThe banner and our KW United scarves gave many of us the opportunity to strike up some great conversations about canPL and the future of Canadian soccer. We hope that the momentum will continue to build! Make sure you check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to hear about future events.

GRU & KW Company Welcomes the TFC Season!

On March 4th, members of17015686_10158270451115075_1554940537689266535_o Grand River Union and KW Company gathered at Shoeless Joe’s in Kitchener-Waterloo to enjoy beer, fellowship, food, and footy! Shoeless was kind enough to give us a great space to watch the game, and allow us to be the rowdy bunch of
soccer supporters that we wanted to be!

Although TFC didn’t come away with the 3 points that we were hoping for, that did not stop us from enjoying the game and the experience of coming together in our common love of the sport. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, and/or subscribe to our google calendar for information about future events: we will continue hosting viewing parties, and are excited about organizing a joint bus trip with the KW Company to attend the Toronto FC home opener! Interested, contact us!

Photography by GRU member Katie Martin!

New Phototastic Collage

Support Our Women!

February 4th was a great day for Canadian soccer as the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team faced off against Mexico for a hard-fought victory. The game was played as a celebratory match after our Women made all of Canada proud and brought home the Bronze Metal in the Brazil Olympics.

Of course, what was probably more important to many of us for this game was saying goodbye to three women who have given their hearts to the Canadian team. Rhian Wilkinson, Marie-Eve Nault and Melissa Tancredi played their last game for the national team on Saturday, so this game was the last opportunity we had to watch them in action wearing that Maple Leaf we love.

Grand River Union Supporters gathered in the Whale and Ale pub in Kitchener to express our support, and while we would have loved to be at the game-we expressed our support in the way we knew how! Supporters of all ages turned up-including some supporters who are too young to know who they are cheering for-men and women, girls and boys-we all cheer for Canada!

If you are interested in joining us for future events, please sign up for our email list, join us on Facebook, and/or follow us on Twitter. If you have an idea for your own soccer event-please connect with us, we’d love to work with you to continue to grow soccer culture in our region!