I’ve been vice president of PFA Canada since I was elected at the organisation’s first board meeting – and when Marcel de Jong stepped down from his position as president, it was a natural progression for me to take up the role.
It’s been a seamless transition so far. I worked closely with Marcel and we were pretty aligned with where we saw the future of the PFA heading, so I feel like I am in a good place to really hit the ground running.
I owe a massive amount of gratitude to Marcel. He was a real trailblazer for Canada, both as a player and a president, and his dedication and credibility were integral building blocks in the early days of the PFA. We went from being non-existent to being, well, PFA Canada – and having someone like him spreading the message and rallying the players was invaluable. He put his neck out and took the first step. We’re so fortunate to have the strong foundation that he and our executive director Dan Kruk laid out to build upon. Even just having him as a role model in those first couple of years was important for me, and I’m going to do everything I can to do his legacy proud.
I believe that the union has a special opportunity to grow support for the players alongside the burgeoning popularity of the game. We’re entering our fifth year in the Canadian Premier League, while internationally the women’s team have become Olympic champions led by the world’s all-time top scorer. The professionalism of the game is growing at a rapid rate, and the PFA is developing alongside it – ensuring that our players get the right support every step of the way.
It’s so cool to see footballers making the choice to earn a living in Canada, and that we can now offer an infrastructure and incentive not only to encourage local talent to stay, but to attract players from across the globe. It’s an exciting time for Canadian football, and I’m hopeful that in time we will equal the achievements of the USA’s MLS.
It's a pivotal period, and this progression is always going to come with politics. Establishing ourselves as a recognised tool for players was the first step, but now we’re starting to focus on collective bargaining rights and establishing our seat at the table within the wider football framework.
It isn’t a one-person job. I might be president but I could never think of a PFA achievement as my own doing; there are so many moving pieces and collaboration in every task and decision that we undertake, I’m just honoured to be playing my part in it all.
When I joined the PFA at its very beginning, I was passionate about the prospect of player representation, and an organisation that would always have our backs. I joined a group of people that felt the exact same way. Whatever we work on, we do it together. We do it for footballers in Canada – from the big names to the youth teams. That was our goal from the very beginning, and as president I help to ensure that it stays that way.
We want to be part of the growth of the game, ensuring that Canadian football is progressing in a way that is in the best interest of both the players and the sport. The ultimate objective is to ensure that our players’ voices are heard and that their needs are met. If I can look back on my time as president having realised that to some degree, I’ll view our work as a success.
Of course, you always have your eye on the big steps ahead. But it’s so important to recognise the little things as achievements in their own right. Every time a player comes to us with an issue and we are able to offer our assistance in some way, it’s a reminder that we’re doing something right. In a couple of short years, we’ve established ourselves as someone to turn to, with a service that simply didn’t exist before.
At the end of the day I'm a footballer first and foremost; and, yes, this means that I have my own individual goals and aspirations aside from my work with the PFA. However, it also means that I have first-hand experience of what it means to be a current player in the Canadian Premier League, and the people I am trying to help are my peers, colleagues, and team-mates.
Being president of a PFA isn’t about doing things your way, it’s making sure that all the voices, tasks, and people are working towards the same goal. It’s about making sure that the players are represented; that the organisation remains relatable, approachable, and effective. I think we’ve done a good job of it so far, but now it’s my responsibility to keep us on the right track no matter how far we’ve travelled.