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!

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 Meets with Gill Heidary and Jeff Hughes from KW United!

Levi, Adrian, and Nathan were excited to sit down on March 9th with Gill Heidary-Director of Club Operations and Co-Owner of KW United, as well as Jeff Hughes-Community Liaison, to discuss ways which Grand River Union and KW United can work together to make a professional soccer team in Kitchener-Waterloo a reality. Gill and Jeff were both open to GRU’s suggestions, and want to continue to develop a close relationship between the club and the supporters.
One of the biggest talking points was how we in Grand River Union can help to ensure that KW United is able to gain entrance to the new Canadian soccer league that will be starting in 2018 or 2019. Gill explained that KW United is looking for another investor to give the team the boost it needs. This season will be vital for that goal; “the primary focus for Barry and I this year is getting people there. We need to prove we can make the leap”.th
Barry MacLean, President of the club-is confident that the league will start strong and will have staying power. Gill explained that all of the CFL teams involved have “agreed, the people on board are willing to lose money” for the beginning stages of the league until enough traction is gained and market share acquired. All we need to do is get there!
In the meantime, KW United staff is hard at work trying to make the best soccer culture possible. They are hosting a joint “picnic in the park” event with Grand River Soccer Club on June 4th, and are hoping to work with us on getting some of their players to join us in some of our events. Gill quickly agreed to our request to rope off the top of the stadium during game-days to create a more intimate feel for fans and bring us all together-and also to providing a spot for us on the new KW United website and to working on some joint advertising campaigns.
We all agreed that one of the defining characteristics of KW United culture was the welcoming atmosphere. This is something that both the team and we the supporters are seeking to create. Gill told us that “because we take the time to care about [the players] as a person, they really stay connected”. She went on to explain that KW United tries to maintain a positive attitude wherever the players go. “Our boys sweep and clean the change rooms before they leave”, the staff views the club “as a dignified club”.
It is this sense of togetherness that the club has been fostering through their overtures to other local sports teams. Gill was in “meetings with the Titans, the Rangers, the Velocity” to develop a KW entertainment package that can help the different teams build each-other up. Supporters of any and all of these teams can expect some exciting joint campaigns in the future. Another exciting partnership is the link between KW United and Toronto FC. Gill confirmed to us that such a partnership was in the works; Toronto FC has now officially released this news. KW United will have the benefit of receiving some of the branding and marketing power of the big club, as well as access to some of their top University prospects. Of course, KW United management will continue to have the final say over the roster-but a little bit of help can never do any harm!
If you are interested in getting involved and/or following the KW United season, send us an email, tweet, or Facebook message. Individual game tickets are $10, season tickets are $40-or, if you want to join GRU’s mission to spread soccer culture throughout the region, we can get you season tickets for just $25.  We firmly believe that more is better, we want to fill up that stadium: remember, this is our team!

For season or single match tickets and scarf purchase inquiries, you can follow this link.

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!

Our First Meeting Was Fantastic!

Despite some technical difficulties and a nasty bout of Canadian winter-the Grand River Union Supporters had a great first meeting! People started arriving at 7pm and began to enjoy the delicious beer brewed and served at TWB Cooperative Brewing. At 7:30pm we started our presentation in thegetting-ready back, which gave the group a lot to think about.

Levi kicked things off with a great run-down of the history of soccer in the region. We learned that KW has the 10th largest population in Canada, and is set to continue to grow at a rapid pace, with a vibrant youth culture! Many new industries and technological start-ups are continuing to fuel the growth of the region, creating a larger demand for a team that can represent our growing slice of Canada.

We also learned that KW has a long-standing history of soccer played in the region. The Ontario Association Football League, which evolved into the CSA-was founded in Berlin, Ontario. For those of you who don’t know-Kitchener was known as Berlin prior to WWI when it was renamed for political reasons. Unfortunately, WWI came with many changes to the region-including the labeling of soccer as a “German” pastime, resulting in a temporary rejection of the sport. Prior to that rejection, Galt FC had represented the region and the nation, winning the Gold Metal in the 1904 Olympics (yes, you read that right!)-and hosting “The Championship of the World” game, when they played an all-star English team right on the bank of the Grand River, tying 3-3 in front of 3,500 fans.

Next up, Adrian walked us through who we want to reach and represent with a CPL team in the region. We learned how there is a common history and culture that runs through the entire Waterloo Region, and that it is the Grand River that unites us all! Too often, the cities are pitteGrandRiver.pngd against each other, fighting for resources and attention. But we are putting out the call to unite the cities under the common banner of a love of the beautiful game!

Nathan talked to us about what the Canadian Premier League is, why we need it, and how the Grand River Union fits into it. We learned about the momentum that the league has, and got excited about having our own Canadian league that would give our players a chance to play at the highest level of soccer. If you haven’t read it, jump over to the article at NorthernStartingXI for a fantastic rundown of the league. Almost Ready to Start.jpg

Filip completed the Grand River presentation by talking about who we are and what we want to be as a supporter’s group. We want to prove to the city, to investors, and to the league that KW is ready for a professional soccer team. To do that, we need to create excitement about soccer and develop a soccer culture that will electrify the region to get behind a team.

After the Grand River presentation ended, we took some time to grab another pint and talk about soccer in the region. Many interesting conversations, ideas, and information was passed around-it’s always great when soccer fans meet!sharingapint.jpg

Next up: James came from the Hamilton Barton St. Battalion to give us some tips on effective ways to get a supporter’s group rolling. He talked to us about how to make connections, building momentum, and fundraising. A big thank-you to James for making the trip through the nasty weather to give us a hand!JamesPresenting.jpg

Jeff finished the night off by talking about the enthusiasm KW United has for the league. He also talked to us about what we need to do to really help the team achieve its goal of becoming professional: build enthusiasm!

It was a fantastic night, full of great conversation and beer! In the future, we are hoping to really get the ball rolling (pun intended) by hosting viewing parties, pub nights, and-when soccer season returns to us: some epic displays of support at local soccer games! Stay tuned for more updates by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and/or signing up for our Email list. GroupShot.jpg