Got a couple hours? Because if you pose a question to Tony Fonseca about the state of soccer in Canada, that’s what you’ll need before you get a chance to pose a second question.
As the Canadian Soccer Association’s new Technical Director, Fonseca has a mountain of work to do. But nobody needs to tell him that. A more astute soccer man in this country you won’t find.
I’ve had plenty of conversations with the former Portuguese international over the years. But if you really want to discuss the sport with this man, and I mean REALLY discuss it, you’d better come with pencil and paper in hand — maybe a dictionary and perhaps a calculator, too — and most of all a sharp mind.
When it comes to player development, coaching, tactics, and soccer personnel in Canada from B.C. to Newfoundland, Fonseca really knows his stuff and could deliver a lecture. Nobody has a better feel and understanding of these subjects than Fonseca.
Does this mean he’ll be successful? Not necessarily. We all know that the problem with soccer in Canada is not at the top of the pyramid — it’s at the bloated bottom. Local and provincial agendas, combined with too many know-it-all attitudes at the grass roots level will combine to throw roadblock after roadblock in front of Fonseca.
But he knows that. Whether he can break that down before it all breaks him down remains to be seen.
He may have a better chance at forging a stronger player development relationship with the country’s professional clubs, most notably Toronto FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact. And let’s face it, that’s where the lion’s share of development has to come from.
As more than one soccer guru in this country has recently stated, the rest of the world can’t be wrong in that department. It’s also an area that Fonseca has targeted as of utmost importance.
For those who keep beating the tired old drum and pounding out the same diatribe that we need big international names to fill these roles, I say this: Fonseca was born and raised in Portugal where he played both professionally and internationally.
He came to Canada more than a decade ago and you won’t find a more proud Canadian anywhere. He knows the sport, he knows Canada, and mercifully, he knows that ugly beast known as CONCACAF.
Critical details, all of them. Good enough to get the job done? Let’s wait and see.