Pickering, ON (October 19, 2021) – Pickering Football Club might not have taken to the field for a competitive League1 Ontario game since August 2019, but they have been working hard behind the scenes to achieve a significant result in recent months.
Established in 1984, Pickering Football Club offers programs for recreational, competitive, high performance and all abilities football, and they are one of 58 National Youth Licensed Clubs in Canada. Originally competing as Durham United FC, they were founding members of League1 Ontario Men’s Division in 2014 and League1 Ontario Women’s Division in 2015 – a championship they won twice in the first four years of competition.
In October 2019, the senior teams were rebranded as Pickering Football Club, but having not competed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have yet to take to the field in League1 Ontario competition under their new name – and that is not all that will be different next season.
The club has formed a unique partnership that will see these teams, which are based at Pickering Soccer Centre, operated by new owners, led by principal investor Ritchie Jeune and Chris Rivett.
The pair co-founded South Bend Lions in northern Indiana two years ago, while Jeune, who was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands, is also the owner of Kettering Town, one of the most renowned semi professional teams in England, and Shantou Lions in China.
Corrado Roccasalva, past president of Pickering Football Club, said: “We have been presented with many challenges in the last 18 months, and there has been a constant need to pivot with our programming, but one positive for us during that time has been the conversations we’ve explored with Chris and Ritchie to arrive at what we consider to be a ground-breaking opportunity for players in the Durham region.”
Matt Greenwood, executive director of Pickering Football Club, said: “They have impressed us with their wealth of knowledge and strong international network and this unique partnership not only means elite soccer will return to the city in 2022 but ensures the continued growth of the club at a senior level with the addition of more exciting pathways for our players.”
Ritchie Jeune said: “We would like to thank everyone at Pickering Football Club and League1 Ontario for their support in concluding this agreement. The appetite for the game in the region is very clear; combine this with the rapid growth of the Canadian football landscape in general and what we’ve learned from operating and integrating our clubs, and we believe this is a fantastic opportunity to add to the already great work that has taken place here.
“We are looking forward to working closely with the club and the community, and we can’t wait until we’re able to see Pickering represented on the field again.”
Dino Rossi, executive chairman of League1 Ontario, said: “We are very pleased to be able to welcome a reinvigorated Pickering FC back to League1 Ontario. With Pickering’s long L1O history and the support of a new ownership group, we are excited for a new chapter of showcasing and developing young soccer talent in Ontario and are looking forward to an exciting 2022 season for our men and women.”
About League1 Ontario
League1 Ontario is the province of Ontario’s pro-am, standards-based, senior league. Founded in 2014, the league began with a ten team men’s division, which has now grown to 22 teams in the men’s Premier Division and includes a separate 15 team women’s Premier Division.
League1 Ontario serves as a stepping stone between the high performance youth level and elite amateur and professional levels of the game. Owned and managed by Canadian Soccer Business and sanctioned by FIFA through the domestic bodies of Canada Soccer and Ontario Soccer, League1 Ontario’s primary focus is the showcase and development of Canada’s future stars.
About Pickering Football Club
In 2019, Pickering, competing as Durham United, finished 14th in its last active season in Men’s League1 Ontario and 10th in Women’s League1 Ontario. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the club opted out of the 2021 season.
The women’s team were champions of the inaugural season in 2015 and won the championship via the playoffs in 2018.
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