FADI SALBACK CLOSE TO EUROPEAN CONTRACT
PICTURE: At Khmelnytskyi Oblast (Province), Ukraine, where FC Vorkuta striker Fadi Salback is on trial, reports suggest the team, FC Podillya Khmelnytskyi, is pleased with his play and are close to offering a contract. That’s a rare occurrence for a high level mid or Eastern European team where local talent is in abundance and opportunities for Canadian players are few and far between..
It’s been 20 years since Gerry Gentile, a soccer coach just north of Toronto and award-winning businessman, pitched his dream of launching a top-flight coast to coast national soccer league to a large, select audience at a downtown Toronto hotel.
“There is nothing in the DNA of a Canadian that says he cannot be a great soccer player,“ he said while emphasizing that soccer in Canada is no longer a foreign sport, but now a Canadian sport and there is an abundance of Canadian-born talent and many others having settled in Canada from elsewhere playing the game of their choice with great skill.
A Canadian United Soccer League (CUSL) was considered at the time to be too ambitious and did not get off the ground and since that Toronto meeting two decades ago the Canadian Soccer League and its forerunner leagues and the recently launched Canadian Premier League have been filling the bill.
While there have been numerous Canadians signed by high level European clubs over the years it has never been easy due to Canada’s image in world football being influenced by the low FIFA rating of the men’s national team. The Canadian men’s team stands 73rd in today’s world rankings. Canada has been in the World Cup Finals just once, Mexico 1986 when the team lost all three games while failing to score.
Canadian players must show that little extra while competing in overseas trials with the home grown talent and we have seen exceptional players Alfonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps to powerhouse Bayern Munich and Jonathan David of Ottawa recently signed by French club Lille.
Fadi Salback of FC Vorkuta of the Canadian Soccer League presently on trial with FC Podillya Khmelnytskyi, a Ukrainian second division team based in Khmelnytskyi Oblast, Ukraine, is a more modest opportunity for a talented prolific striker from Canada who was a standout with Ontario Tech University, Oshawa, just east of Toronto, where he was selected the Rookie of the Year by the governing body for university sports across Canada before entering professional soccer with Vorkuta in 2019.
Reports are saying that Salback has been impressive at Khmelnytskyi during the past two weeks and there is a good chance the Ukraine club will offer the Canadian a contract.
The offer to a player from Canada is a rarity in a country already blessed with a large player population and limited professional football structure with few opportunities for players outside mid and Eastern Europe.