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Canadian Football's new general secretary Kevin Bleu is hitting the ground running

Canadian Football's new general secretary Kevin Bleu is hitting the ground running

Blue sees opportunity and challenge in the future.

“It's a very critical time for our sport in Canada,” he said.

The 50th-ranked Canadian team will face No. 96 Trinidad and Tobago in a playoff on March 23 in Frisco, Texas, with the winner advancing to Group A with top-ranked Argentina, No. 33 Peru and No. 42 Chile in this summer's Copa America. . Meanwhile, the ninth-seeded Canadian women are looking forward to an open defense of their Olympic title in late July in Paris.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup, which Canada is co-hosting, looms in the not-too-distant future.

Challenges include the ongoing and protracted labor dispute with both national teams and the financial constraints of the current agreement with Canadian Soccer Business covering corporate partnerships and broadcast rights.

Blue acknowledges that there are “current conditions that need to be addressed on several fronts.” But not surprisingly, he doesn't have many answers at this early stage.

Resolving the labor dispute “is certainly a top priority,” he said.

On the CSB front, he says the Canadian soccer community needs to “raise its aspirations for the structure, business and philanthropic model that supports and moves the sport forward at this critical time.”

“This is something I intend to try and drive forward and try to unite stakeholders behind the concept of more than just continuing the old conversations… I'm trying to be solutions-oriented.”

This includes the need for “a more effective business environment for the sport in Canada,” he says.

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Ensuring that young people have access to “good resources” is also a priority.

When asked if he had a time frame to appoint a permanent men's coach, his answer was a simple “no.”

Blue watched the Canadian team lose to the United States on penalties on a waterlogged field last Wednesday.

“(It was) heartbreaking and wet. But still, it was good to be there supporting the team.” “Obviously we were all hoping for a different outcome to what was certainly an eventful game.”

Before joining Golf Canada, where he served as chief athletic officer as of December 2020, Blue was the director of athletics at the University of California, Davis, a job he started in May 2016 when he was just 33 years old. Athletics at Stanford University, his alma mater.

This included supervising 36 teams at Stanford University and 25 teams at the University of California-Davis.

Expect Blue to be connected to the community. He's done this in his previous jobs, for example, offering practical advice to the 2017 graduating class of student-athletes at UC Davis in an open letter, advising them to “find the next thing they really love doing,” and “work hard.” early in your career” and “commit yourself to continuous learning.”

“Just like in sports, becoming a top contributor will require you to get better every day,” he wrote.

The Canadian Women, who formed the Canadian Soccer Players' Association in 2016, have been without a labor agreement since their last contract expired at the end of 2021. They have reached an agreement in principle with Canada Soccer on compensation for 2022 and an interim agreement. For 2023 to cover the World Cup but are essentially waiting for the men to settle given the two deals are linked to equal wages.

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The men, who organized in the summer of 2022 as the Canada Men's National Soccer Team Players Association, are working on their first formal employment agreement.

Interim coach Mauro Bello cited the need to “reset the culture within the men’s team when naming a young roster for the Copa America match.

Blue, his wife Betsy, and their four children ages 4, 15, 19, and 23 (the eldest are three stepchildren) live in Mississauga, Ontario.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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