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.

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.

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