Speech to the Kingston FC Holiday Reception

Written by Admin on . Posted in Features & Interviews

On December 10th, 2012, Kingston FC co-owner Lorne Abugov welcomed guests and Kingston FC coaches, players and staff to the first annual Kingston FC Holiday reception and mixer at the Radisson Hotel Kingston Harbourfront. Here is a reprint of his remarks to the attendees:

Thank you, Jacqueline Bell, and welcome everyone to our Kingston FC holiday reception. I hope everyone has had a chance to have a drink and meet some friends, old and new. On behalf of our pro soccer teams, and my co-owner Joe Scanlon, allow me to extend some quick thanks to several great organizations that have helped us organize and stage today’s event.

I’ll begin with Jacqueline and her colleagues at Sport Tourism Kingston and KEDCO who do a fantastic job of promoting the benefits of this city and region, and we want our pro soccer team to be another great reason to visit Kingston next summer.

Next, a big thank you goes out to Steve Lynn, Mike Lynn and Mary Paul at WTC Communications here in Kingston. WTC Communications is our club’s Platinum sponsor once again in 2013, and our players, many of whom are here today, proudly wear the WTC logo on our home and away uniforms. WTC is a terrific company that understands the importance of the sport of soccer in this community, and has a track record of supporting the sport both at the youth minor level and the pro level.

One of our more recent sponsors is also here today, CanPlace, a terrific new organization with a lot in common with Kingston FC. Laura Patterson and Nancy Uchimaru are both here today from CanPlace and you will be hearing from Laura shortly to learn a little more about what they are up to and why a sponsorship with our club is a good fit for CanPlace.

And finally, I want to thank Megan Rose and Brittany Skeane of the Diamond Group for all of their assistance in pulling today’s event together here at the Radisson Hotel Kingston Harbourfront.

Some of you may know the story of Kingston FC, but others here may be meeting up with us for the first time. I want to provide you with a bit of background and also a bit of good news about the club. Kingston FC competes with 15 other 1st division and 2nd division professional teams across Ontario and in Montreal in the Canadian Soccer League, Canada’s only pro soccer league, and one that surprising to many of us, has been in continuance existence since 1926.

Our Kingston FC franchise was awarded to the club in June of 2011 and our teams took to the field for our inaugural 2012 season at the Invista Centre’s CaraCo Homes field on May 5th against the Academy team from Toronto FC of the MLS. Their teams were coached by Canadian soccer household names Danny Dichio and Jim Brennan, and I guess our boys were star gazing through the first 55 minutes of play, as we fell behind 3-0. Then, we made history when we scored the first goal in Kingston pro soccer history, scored by that fellow over there – Mademba Ba – who would go on to lead the team in scoring with 10 goals overall. Hey…this is easy, we said and proceeded to score another goal, this one by Edgar Soglo, to draw within a goal of TFC Academy. They snatched one back in the late stages, but a big opening day crowd here in Kingston went home that day having seen some great pro soccer and a home team that had some pluck.

We raced off to a great start winning two road games, and tying one at home in our first five games. Then we hit the wall and went into a seven game tail-spin, culminating in a demoralizing 1-0 loss to the previously winless St. Catharines Roma Wolves. It was then that a big change ensued for Kingston FC.

Our previous owner and head coach, who did a great job of selecting our core talent, resigned after that game for personal and family reasons, and Joe and I took the reins. We brought in a new coach, Athlone, Ireland’s pride and joy, Colm Muldoon, who is also here with us today. Colm brought energy, discipline and tactics to the squad, and our boys bounced back well, playing an entertaining style of soccer we could be proud of. Although we ended up in 14th place overall in the sixteen team league, we earned the respect of the league, won five games on the field and a tie, and dropped seven games by one-goal, four of them in the 87th minute or later. Among those late game nail-biters were a 2-1 loss to second place Montreal Impact Academy, a 1-0 loss in Toronto in our rematch with TFC Academy, and home and away one-goal defeats to third place SC Toronto, 1-0 and 3-2. In short, on most nights, we were competitive, and on a number of late season games, we outplayed the best teams in our league.

My co-owner Joe Scanlon is in England today and sends his regrets. Joe is 79 years of age. Whenever we meet up at his home or mine, he is quick to tell me that Kingston FC is adding years to his life. I joke in response that I am glad to hear it, since there are days when this team is taking years off my life! All in all, we have had a wild ride in 2012 with Kingston FC, full of ups and downs, moments of exhilaration colliding with moments of sheer desolation. I know our players would agree with me when I say that anyone involved with Kingston FC knows that our maiden season never lacked for drama.

That’s why in 2013, one of our primary goals at Kingston FC is to tone down the drama, smooth out the peaks and valleys, and most important, Stick to Business. We have chosen that phrase, “Sticking to Business”, as our motto for the upcoming 2013 season. Next season in the CSL, we will field a strong team; we will be well trained, and well prepared under Colm Muldoon, and very focused. We will stick to soccer and play an attractive style of Kingston FC football. We’ll make Kingston a visit to remember for many CSL teams that may take us lightly…and, mark this down; we can make the playoffs next season. I know it, Joe knows it and Colm knows it. That’s our goal…

But Sticking to Business is not just a figurative phrase…it’s a literal one as well. If our pro soccer team is going to survive in Kingston, and do all for the sport of soccer in this community that we know we can, we need the help of Kingston and area business – plain and simple. We cannot do it without the help of companies like yours, small and medium sized businesses willing to support a pro sports team in this city. Kingston FC wants to stick to your business in 2013 and we want you to stick with us as we build a winning team for this City – one that all of you can take pride in, as you get to know us and our players, and as your kids learn to love us, and maybe dream of joining us as they pursue the same dream that millions of youngsters all around the world chase – a chance to play pro soccer in their own home town.

I am going to end by thanking you for your time and by using this pulpit to make one of our most significant announcements ever. Today, our club announced the signing of a comprehensive sponsorship, affiliation and training MOU with the Cataraqui Clippers, Kingston’s largest youth minor soccer club, and a great organization. We spent weeks working together with Clippers President Jon Hulse, who is here today – Jon. I am proud to say that together with the Clippers we have developed a model arrangement that will be a great boost for both of our organizations – but principally for young soccer players in and around Kingston.

Today’s announcement is just the first of many similar announcements we at Kingston FC hope to make in the coming weeks and months. I would be pleased to answer any questions about today’s exciting development during our Q & A in a few minutes. But for now, my thanks once again and I’d like to ask Steve Lynn of WTC Communications to say a few words about their company and their decision to sponsor Kingston FC.