To know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been.
And as another widely successful Nutrilite Canadian Championship reaches its culmination tomorrow with the Vancouver Whitecaps hosting Toronto FC, it’s important to remember how the Voyageurs Cup came to be.
The emergence of MLS teams, coupled with a growing infrastructure and the largest youth participation in Canada, has soccer quickly approaching a tipping point. The game will soon be talked of and covered in the same way that baseball, hockey and football are.
But, back in 2002, when soccer was still just a blip on the sporting radar, a group of supporters called the Voyageurs were sick of waiting for a national championship to be created by the governing bodies and took it upon themselves to do just that.
They bought a trophy, got Canada’s USL-1 clubs (which then included Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto) to embrace the idea and began awarding the trophy to the “national champion” each year.
From the beginning, the Montreal Impact were the most ardent supporter of the idea. No matter how they were doing that season, they invested significant time and energy into winning the Voyageurs Cup, which meant having the best record against all the other Canadian teams.
Former Impact head coach John Limniatis spent significant time on It’s Called Football earlier this year bragging to me about how they would once again win it this season and suggested the cup was best served being kept in its permanent home of Montreal. Winning a competition seven straight times will do that to you.
But as the game grows and the competition moves forward, there is a fear among the Voyageurs that the cup’s history will be lost. Already, most who know of this tournament refer to it as the Nutrilite or Canadian Cup. The Voyageurs tag has been pushed to the side.
Soccer has grown in Canada because of efforts on the grassroots level. The Voyageurs Cup was born from that, it deserves to be spoken of and remembered as such.
– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Monday at metronews.ca;