“League1 Ontario will become a promotion/relegation league in 2024. We have two years to compete well to find ourselves in the top division. The competition is surely the key to the Simcoe Rovers’ development,” says President Julian de Guzman.
The Simcoe Rovers begin their inaugural season this weekend
The time finally draws near. Simcoe Rovers FC’s men’s and women’s teams make their League1 Ontario debut this weekend. The Rovers kick-off on Sunday at J.C. Massie Field in Barrie. The women’s team plays at 2 pm while the men’s team squares off at 5 pm, both against Blue Devils FC.
This Canadian semi-professional soccer club brings an abundance of talent coupled with a star-studded ownership group, including current and former Canadian greats. In addition, the Rovers’ inception results from acquiring the license of former club Aurora FC.
At the helm of this esteemed group is Canadian soccer legend and Rovers President Julian de Guzman. Alongside de Guzman stands CEO Peter Raco, Chief Operating Officer Will Devellis, and Club Manager Ali Sozeri.
Furthermore, the Rovers’ co-ownership group consists of some of the country’s marquee names in soccer. Canadian national team captain Atiba Hutchinson tops the list. Notably, Hutchinson recently guided Team Canada to its first World Cup berth in 36 years.
What’s more, Hutchinson is joined by teammate and star Cyle Larin, national team members Doneil Henry, and Janine Beckie.
Suffice it to say that the Rovers possess one of the most exciting administrative lineups in sports!
The Rovers aim to bring elite competition to the region
They’re not here to take part; they’re here to take over.
The Rovers received their first taste of CPL action back in March when they faced the Halifax Wanderers in an exhibition match. As a result, the newly formed Rovers squad learned they have what it takes to succeed, despite a 1-0 defeat.
Additionally, head coach Jason Beckford was impressed with what he saw.
“I was pleased with what we did. We’re still building and growing as a team. The players need to go out and express themselves while making sure they stay organized,” said Beckford.
Uniquely, Beckford’s son, Ethan, joins the inaugural Rovers squad this upcoming season. The English footballer previously played for Irlam F.C. in Manchester, England.
The Rovers have spared no expense in building competitive rosters right out of the gate. Notable names include Jordan Dover, Reshon Phillips, Yazmeen Jamieson, and others. The club has benefitted significantly from the knowledge of de Guzman and co.
Expectations for the team’s home openers
Thanks to ownership’s steady guidance, the Rovers come well prepared for Sunday’s matchups.
“There’s been a lot of attention on the club recently, so we’ll have a target on our backs. But the players have put in the work and are ready to play come Sunday,” de Guzman shared.
Moreover, de Guzman recognizes the significance a successful campaign early on can have on the players. It’s an opportunity to gain professional experience in a semi-pro environment.
“Learning to be a pro before you go pro is the culture we hope to establish here,” de Guzman elaborated.
The hard work is done. Now, it’s up to the players to deliver the results on the field.
“Hopefully, I won’t have to step on the pitch,” de Guzman teased.