By Ottawa Sportspage, For Ottawa TFC Soccer Club
Unity. Growth. Work ethic. Excellence.
When Ottawa TFC launched, those were the core values members identified to guide the club.
The next task was to ensure that those values were followed throughout all levels of the club at all times. That’s a challenge of course when there are over 3,000 players, but Ottawa TFC General Manager Pavel Cancura says there is nonetheless a noticeable unified spirit across all programs.
“You get the sense that everybody knows almost everyone’s name,” signals Cancura. “Though we’re a fairly sizeable club, that tight family feel is still there.”
One tool the club uses to spread its values is regular team meetings off the pitch where expectations become reinforced through open discussion. It’s also a huge help that roughly 80% of club’s coaches are past players who absorbed the club’s culture in its Academy.
Cancura believes that what sets Ottawa TFC apart from many other clubs is placing a very strong emphasis on developing much more than soccer skills. For instance, coaches don’t advance in the club simply because they post a lot of wins.
“It’s based on: how are you connecting with the kids? How are you upholding the values and helping the culture get stronger?” explains Cancura.
There are four “corners” that make up a player, he adds – technical, tactical, physical and social/mental. Cancura recently consulted with Kris Van Der Haegen, a coaching director from #1 world-ranked Belgium who emphasized that the social/mental component is the one that truly makes the difference – matching Ottawa TFC’s beliefs.
“It’s all about building that corner of the player that’s tied to their character and who they are. It’s really powerful,” Cancura underlines. “Ultimately, that’s what drives how hard you train to get your touch better, how hard you’ll push to become a little faster. The engine to improving all those pieces lies somewhere in your values and your mental and psychological strength.”
Cancura was proud to see the club’s values on full display when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. There were zero complaints about the circumstances, and everyone pulled together to put in countless hours and develop a Virtual Training program.
“It’s amazing for me to look on the wall here and see a projection of 20 players who are training in their basement or their garage and working their butts off, smiling and talking together,” Cancura details. “Look how much they’re willing to put in. Man, you see unity, you see the growth mindset, you see the work ethic and you see them striving for excellence. I mean, you’ve got all the values right there.”