Weston United FC brings a Brazilian touch
Sadly, Pele is not with us now but memories of his visits to Toronto are vivid and will be with soccer fans and the local soccer community for many years to come. Memories of his visits to Toronto come flooding back recently with the addition to the Canadian Soccer League of Weston United Football Club, a club with a strong Brazilian player and management content. Weston United FC is an expansion team based in Toronto’s west end preparing in earnest for the new CSL season kickoff tentatively set for mid-May. It is believed to be the first time a professional soccer club has launched in Weston.
One of Pele’s earlier visits to Toronto, a Santos of Brazil vs Bologna of Italy match on June 23, 1971 in a packed Varsity Stadium attendance of 26,000 one hour before kickoff time. There were an estimated 4,000 gatecrashers that scaled the Bloor Street wall helped by Toronto police that summer day and a match no one wanted to miss.
The police escorted many to the tarmac surrounding the playing surface, then worked out a plan to prevent chaos at the final whistle when thousands would fill the playing surface to get close to a Brazilian considered globaly to be the world’s best footballer.
With Santos leading 2-1 near the end of the game, a signal by the referee that in 60 seconds he was blowing the final whistle sent Pele easing his way to the touch line, then disappear into the tunnel.
There were other visits to Toronto, with New York Cosmos against Toronto Metros and following the end of Pele’s playing career there were many visits to Toronto for business reasons.
Moving forward to more recent times, Anarqui Futbol & Amigos, a Brazilian veterans team from Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, opened its North American tour with a match against the CSL Veteran All Stars at Maple, just north of Toronto on August 28, 2018. The CSL side scored a 6-2 victory, while despite the defeat, the keep possession skills of the visitors were vary apparent.
Wallace Reis is head coach of Weston United FC, Paulo Oliva, is president, Leandro the vice president and the international director is Adler Jean-Baptiste.
Many of the players are from Brazil, with others being negotiated from countries in South America and Europe.
“We want to help soccer to grow in Canada and in the beginning we want to play like the old, good Brazilian style and create this identity,” said Paulo Oliva, a former professional raised in Rio de Janeiro who launched Weston United FC in 2022.
During the coming weeks leading up to the season, training sessions will be at the Keelesdale South Park in Weston, in North York and the home ground will be announced at a later date.
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