By Melissa Novacaska
The era of Ottawa TFC has officially begun with the club born from the amalgamation of Cumberland United and Capital United having held the official kickoff of its first competitive season.
Though the weather was messy for a portion of the June 15 event that featured three of Ottawa TFC’s four Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) teams, the rain didn’t wash away the fun for the club’s eldest OPDL girls squad, who played in the first match of the day.
Ottawa TFC’s U14 girls faced off against Whitby, giving it their all in a 2-0 win. The following day they played United FA, losing 2-0.
Their weekend results are reminiscent of the team’s season so far, with the squad registering a 4-3 record through their first seven games. They’re in 4th place, just one spot back of the 4-2 Ottawa South U14 girls.
Jessie Burgins, head coach of the U14 girls’ team, was optimistic heading into the game and emphasized the importance of the girls simply doing their best.
“Every game so far we approach it from a professional point of view. [We] make sure the girls know that it’s a serious game, that it doesn’t matter who’s there, who’s watching, you have to go out and give your best,” Burgins said.
According to Burgins, who comes from the Cumberland side of the merger, the clubs’ combination has been positive so far.
“It increases our footprint on Ottawa, in terms of players. We get to reach a lot of players from different areas,” Burgins said. “Not necessarily about taking them, but it’s about developing them. We have a very good developmental club here so for the kids coming in, they’re definitely learning and growing.”
Burgins said he’s seen a major improvement for the U14 girls team as a whole, compared to their U13 days.
“They’ve stepped up, they’ve grown from it, they’ve gotten a lot better,” Burgins said. “They’ve grown as a team, they’ve fought through it all; they won, they lost, and I think that’s a big part to them, just how much they’ve grown and how much they’ve developed and that’s been great.”
Burgins points out that team captain Maya Galko has been notably exceptional and praised her as being a great team leader.
“I think she brings the girls together. They all respect her,” Burgins said.
Another player who’s been a key for the team this year is Team Ontario’s Amelia Campanella.
“She brings a lot of expertise in terms of just her raw passion of desire to want to win and get better,” Burgins said.
Both Galko and Campanella have been playing soccer since a young age. They agree there’s been benefits to the club merger.
“Definitely you could tell that there’s a lot of strong players that have come [and] I think it gives us more resources,” said Campanella, who plays centre and centre midfielder.
Galko, who has played centre striker, and now moves from left winger to the centre midfielder spot, shared similar sentiments about the fusion’s impact on the club and her team.
“We strive on the quality, but it’s also about the quantity that could impact the game. So I feel like more players equals more players to potentially get noticed by scouts and to make our team better as a club,” Galko said.
Both girls have big dreams for their future in the sport, including making provincial and national teams, while playing the sport that makes them feel good and includes being around friends.
Burgins also noted that the merger is a way for the club to grow in general.
“We’re never static, that’s one big thing about our club, we’re not static, we’re always looking to become better, to become the best and whatever that is, and it’s something that never ends,” Burgins said. “When you think about it, you’re always striving to do better [and the] sky’s the limit.”
Here’s how Ottawa’s team stack up in the OPDL: