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1812 FC taking ‘slow and steady’ approach to meeting needs of entire Huronia region

By League1 Ontario, 05/05/21, 2:45PM EDT

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1812 FC

To tell the tale of 1812 FC’s addition to League1 Ontario, we have to go back to November 2019 and a simple discussion.

Barrie resident Ronan Cordelle approached Andrew Weilgus about a strong local supporters’ group that had gotten together to help build a top-level soccer program. The aspiration was to eventually reach the Canadian Premier League but the mission would start first in League1 Ontario.

Cordelle had selected Weilgus as the first contact based on Weilgus’ experience with Atlantic City FC (NPSL) and over a breakfast meeting in Toronto, Cordelle and Weilgus discussed the city of Barrie, its similarities to the community within Atlantic City and bond-building among surrounding cities. 

By March of 2020, despite what was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weilgus agreed to the project, including what would become a bid for a men’s team in L1O.

“In Atlantic City, we have this desire to rehabilitate an old baseball stadium and get it converted to a multi-sport facility, Weilgus told Premier Podcast’s Michael Miller. “In Barrie, there’s no place to put a professional soccer team right now.”

“But we feel like we’ve got a clear focus on how to get there. In Barrie, a lot has to happen on the grassroots level to warrant that move up (to the CPL) but we’re excited to just be in League1, get that started and build a high-performance program for the entire Huronia region,” added Weilgus.

In addition to Cordelle’s integral role in the club’s development and the formation of its official supporters’ group — the Kempenfelt Crew — the founding of 1812’s advisory board has proven to be a useful tool, building a brain trust that includes members Dave Thorburn (Innisfil Soccer Club), Jeff Paulus (FC Edmonton, Edmonton Scottish United Soccer Club), Francis Cagigao (Arsenal Football Club, Chilean Football Association), Marcus Walfridson (UEFA-Licenced Coach & Consultant), Ray Garrett (Innisfil Soccer Club), Louise Jackson (Georgian College, Barrie Sports Tourism Board) and Kraig Schwartz (Innisfil Soccer Club) all lending a hand behind the scenes.   

More recent additions to the club’s front office include David Goldstein (Assistant to the General Manager), Alex Truijillo (Director of Business Development, Casey Telford (Media Director) and Matthew Anderson (Management-in-Training). Credit is also given to Derek Reese, the designer behind 1812’s official crest and subsequent branding. 

“There are a lot of people I’m very grateful for and the time they’ve spent, all selflessly, Weilgus told Premier Podcast of the group effort to get 1812 FC off the ground. “At this stage, with everything shut down, no clinics to run, no camps to run and no prospects of when that could happen, everyone’s just trying to do the best they can to keep the project pushing forward.” 

When timelines on return to play become clearer and on pitch progress can be made, 1812 eventually plans on fielding a series of reserve teams. Where those teams are entered in terms of the competitions have yet to be determined for the time being.

“Ultimately, our ambition is to have a men’s and women’s League1 team and reserve teams in each of those as well. The ability to enter four teams in a COVID year is not practical on multiple different levels so I think our approach is going to be slow and steady this year, enter the senior men’s side in League1 and then field reserve teams or, more likely, find different level leagues to enter them into to get experience ramping up to 2022.” 

The club’s goal is to establish both a men’s and women’s side in League1 play to start the 2023-24 season.

In the meantime, 1812 will continue to develop through outreach with local youth clubs with a community-over-competition mindset.

“We won’t do anything that competes with other clubs in the Huronia District Soccer Association on the youth level. What we’re going to do is run a high-performance program that is open to all of the clubs.”

1812 FC are expected to play their home games on J.C. Massie Field at Georgian College once League1 play resumes.

With files from Casey Telford - Media Director, 1812 FC