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“The experience of a lifetime” of a team from Brossard in Portugal

Our meeting with Rogério Crespo had only begun a few minutes ago in Brossard and we already felt the friendliness found in typical Portuguese households.

Posted May 9

Jean-Francois Teotonio

Jean-Francois Teotonio
The Press

The author of these lines has his family in reference to this chapter.

We will point this out to our interlocutor at the very end of our interview, when leaving a restaurant in Quartier DIX30.

“It’s important to me,” he says. I try to run the club like a family. »

Rogério Crespo is the technical director of the Brossard Soccer Association, an amateur club in the Quebec Elite Soccer League, also affiliated with CF Montreal.

The Portugal native took his U17 side on a trip to his home country last month. An unforgettable experience for its players.

He played them against big teams from the Iberian Peninsula. FC Porto, Sporting, Benfica, Braga, Tondela. All clubs whose senior teams play in the Portuguese first division.

This journey was part of the fulfillment of a promise made a year earlier, when his players were in the under-16s. If they finished first in the Quebec AAA championship, he would take them to Portugal.

Thing promised, thing due. But Crespo will concede to The Press first place or not, the trip was still going to take place.

I wanted to give this experience to these young people. They deserved it. It’s a good band.

Rogério Crespo, Technical Director of the Brossard Soccer Association

Rogério Crespo had given us an appointment at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, where his office and the indoor field that his club uses in the winter are located. Its premises overlook the ice rink where the Montreal Canadiens train. But there is a dance competition in the complex that day.

So we decide to head not far from there, to an outdoor soccer field where our photographer will join us shortly.

Young people play football on the synthetic field of the Poly-Aréna park. Perfect background to start the discussion, and ask the technical director to tell us about his trip.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROGERIO CRESPO

The Brossard Soccer Association team in the FC Porto locker room

“We won four games” out of six, he says.

The Portuguese, who has lived both halves of his life in Brazil and in his native country, speaks excellent French. Even if he describes it himself as “correct”. The entire interview will take place in the language of Félix Leclerc, of which he did not speak a word before his arrival in Canada three and a half years ago.

“But the big victory, he continues, is when I heard people say that they had never imagined that Canada had a level like that. »

We showed a good image of soccer in Canada, of soccer in Quebec.

Rogério Crespo, Technical Director of the Brossard Soccer Association

Its players won 2-1, notably against Sporting, a historic club based in Lisbon. History in what way? Its academy, recognized as one of the best on the planet, sportingly gave birth to Figo, Nani and Bruno Fernandes. Ah, and Cristiano Ronaldo, too. Does that remind you of something ?

“That game was magical,” said Thomas Fraser, forward and team captain, reached by telephone. We saw that they were clearly superior to us. We saw that they were incredible. Very, very happy to have won against them. »


PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROGERIO CRESPO

The Brossard Soccer Association team at Sporting in Lisbon

“I spoke to the players before entering the field, recalls Crespo. To be able to play against players who, in four years, will be worth millions in Europe… this experience that they have had, it’s incredible. »

Rogério Crespo had two objectives in mind at the start of this journey: to give experience to his young people and to show the Europeans what firewood the Canadian players had.

“There have been matches where Portuguese coaches and teams clearly did not expect that,” notes Thomas Fraser. However, he remembers “two meetings where, physically, we were not there”.

“But there are really games where I am convinced that in Portugal they were amazed, definitely. »

Mission accomplished, therefore, for the technical director.

Limited opportunities in Canada

Our photographer arrives. After a few shots around the corner, Rogério Crespo invites him to join us at the restaurant for dinner. She has other obligations and kindly declines the invitation, but we note all the same the very natural generosity of our interlocutor.

We get into his car. Head to Mitsuki, the sushi restaurant at DIX30. The discussion continues. We begin to understand that beyond the objectives of the trip, the idea came to him from an observation on the “structure” of Canadian soccer.

He speaks positively of the Club Licensing Program, established by Canada Soccer and supported by Soccer Quebec, which forces member organizations to professionalize. To invest.

“The structures here in Canada are incredible,” he says. […] We, in Brossard, have four synthetic pitches. We have the Bell Sports Complex field in the winter. We have everything.

“But afterwards, what is missing is the top of the pyramid. We train the players well, we start training at 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 years old. At 18, there are semi-pro teams, but the players cannot live their life with the semi-pro. For the best players in Quebec, there is only one club: CF Montreal. »

Rogério Crespo would like civic passion to get involved.

In Portugal, on every street corner, there is a club of all levels. The city is passionate about the club. Citizens go to see our matches. Then there is money. And then it starts. There is more investment from partners. This is what is missing in Canada. The passion of the citizen.

Rogério Crespo, Technical Director of the Brossard Soccer Association

Small interlude to our exchanges to settle in the restaurant and place our orders. We start looking at the ever-long sushi menu, but Rogério Crespo is a regular.

“We eat, and then we ask for more, don’t worry. »

We resume the discussion. By having his players travel, the technical director of AS Brossard wanted to show them how things were done elsewhere.

“I wanted to give the players the opportunity to realize a dream. Everyone has one. But afterwards, achieving this dream is difficult if you stay in Canada. It’s very difficult. How many players will have the opportunity to play at CF Montreal? How many Academy players make it to the main team? »

“It will stay for life”

The dishes arrive quickly and it feels like they are multiplying. Crespo encourages us to eat, eat. We feel like at our grandmother’s house.

The trip to Portugal lasted nine days. In addition to the six games, the AS Brossard U17 team also attended the derby between Benfica and Sporting, in Lisbon, in the Portuguese championship. She also visited club facilities and museums.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROGERIO CRESPO

Rogério Crespo and Stephen Eustáquio, Canadian international who plays for FC Porto

“These are experiences they will never forget,” Crespo says with a smile. It will stay for life. »

The players had the chance to meet Canadian international Stephen Eustáquio, who plays with the FC Porto first team.

“He came with the band, he gave autographs, we took pictures. And Porto put that on their official Instagram account. That of a team that will be champion in Portugal, victorious in two Champions Leagues. It gave a lot of value to our trip. »

“Pay the minimum”

But remains that such a journey, it pays. The technical director is very proud to have been able to maintain the sum at a total of $2,000, all inclusive.

“We tried to charge the minimum so that everyone was able to go. We managed to keep the budget. We were tight. But at the same time, everyone had the opportunity to go there. The rich player and the less rich player. »

We ask Thomas Fraser what he thinks of his technical director, the instigator of the project.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY ROGERIO CRESPO

Thomas Fraser, captain of the Brossard Soccer Association under-17 team

He is a very generous person, replies the young man. Just the fact of having planned this whole trip, and of having contacted teams to play against us. It seems that he is someone who really wants the best for us.

Thomas Fraser, captain of the Brossard Soccer Association under-17 team

We are all full. But for some obscure reason, the dishes keep coming. We have to put a stop to all that, otherwise we’re going to drive all the way to Montreal. And not by car.

One last question, for the road: shall we repeat the experience next year?

Yes, but with a group of girls this time.

“We want to give the experience to the little ones, explains Rogério Crespo. A group of 9, 10, 11, 12 year olds. Because all the parents in the club who saw our project said: ‟Wow! I want the same. “We want to give the experience to everyone. »

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