Y9 reaches out to community during COVID pandemic: ‘We need to step up as a club’
Canadian Premier League

Have you been asking more rhetorical questions during this period of self-isolation? Maybe helpless “what can I do?” queries have jumped into your head over the many delays and postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sensing apathy, York9 FC managing consultant Angus McNab has taken a different approach: “Let’s do what we can.”

The Nine Stripes were scheduled to open its 2020 CPL season this past Monday at home against HFX Wanderers before COVID-19 postponements came into effect. No supporters went through the York Lions Stadium turnstiles, but that hasn’t stopped the club from making an effort to reach out to the community at large.

“We need to step up as a club,” McNab stated bluntly to

“It’s not just about supporting local soccer anymore. We’re part of this community and we’re in this together.”

With this in mind, York9 kicked off an otherwise sombre week with their Health Care Heroes home kit, proceeds from which will be donated to a local COVID-19 response fund. Featuring a “Supporting Our Front Line” patch on the 2020 home kit’s left sleeve, it was a modest, but very important, gesture to make.

“You think about yourself or your family isolating but there are these people who are working day and night just to go home for a sense of normalcy. We’ve got a lot of coverage for the kit, and that’s great because it’s coverage for these health workers,” McNab stated.

“This is a very small gesture we can make as a club to highlight what’s happening. If a little thank-you gesture from us brings some goodwill, that’s job done.”

Y9 players also recently surprised local youth players at Brams United G.S.C., a well-known academy in nearby Brampton, with a group Zoom training session, something McNab points to as a form of community engagement that goes far beyond matchdays.

“Sports are aspirational, joyful, and create incredible moments of passion,” McNab said. “The aspirational aspect is simple. We’ve had players check in clubs around the area.

“Our players are continuously stepping up and taking that lead.”

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As for this past Monday, McNab lamented the chance to unveil some of the club’s new on-field assets; Corinthians-trained striker Gabriel Vasconcelos and Peruvian standout Adrián Ugarriza come to mind, but so does newly-added local talent such as Chris Manella, Matthew Arnone, and Mike Petrasso.

While supporters wait for Y9 to return to the pitch, there’s no shortage of archived footage for them to check out. The area’s soccer history was profiled in a documentary by OneSoccer , who will also replay York9’s emphatic 6-2 victory over HFX Wanderers on their YouTube channel on Thursday night.

“We wanted to be on that pitch Monday night, showing off what we had against the Wanderers,” said McNab, who admitted Y9 still haven’t finished building its 2020 squad, and that negotiations were ongoing with “a few more pieces” they hope to announce soon.

COVID-19 delays have also allowed McNab – who has a background in advanced analytics with Opta – to evaluate Y9’s long-term scouting plans and identify potential targets for next season.

“This coaching staff is gonna hate me by the time this ends,” McNab joked. “But they’re doing some interesting things; long-term scouting, succession plans within the playing squad, and processes in place for evaluating players in the league and seeing how we stack up.”

For now, though, they can only do what they can.

“Whatever we can do, wherever we can do it, we’ll try to make an impact and try to do something across this community,” McNab said.

“Our impact is going to be minimized by what’s going on but it won’t stop us.”