FC Edmonton is leaving the North American Soccer League after seven years. On Nov. 24, they made a press statement that they will not return in 2018, and as players start to clean their lockers, it’s worth a look at a player who started here with the NAIT Ooks.
Now on the Richmond Kickers, Mallan Roberts is an Ook alumnus. He joined the men’s soccer team while taking some upgrading, English, business and computer courses. A year later Roberts joined the FC Edmonton Reserve.
“It’s always been an ambition ever since I could play and kick a ball,” says Roberts. He played in the reserve for another year and officially joined the team in 2013. He played for FC Edmonton for another four years before going on loan to FC Edmonton’s Rival in the NASL, the Ottawa Fury. The Fury switched from the NASL to the United Soccer League in 2016 and Roberts was traded to the Richmond Kickers.
Roberts says that it is sad that FC Edmonton is shutting down.
“It’s had a big impact,” says the former player, and that “It was definitely growing.” He can’t deny that FC Edmonton and joining the NAIT Ooks didn’t get him to where he is today.
Former FC Edmonton players are hesitant to talk about what follows the closure. Their social media accounts hold no news of what the future holds and they refuse to talk. Many wonder if they will get drafted to another NASL team or move onto another league like the USL. Roberts says that one must look at it from the players’ perspective. These “guys lost their jobs.” and that is a very turbulent time for them.
Edmonton has a weathered history of soccer teams. There have been seven attempts at getting a soccer team up and running since 1979. Teams named the Edmonton Drillers have tried three times to make a franchise happen, once in 1979, 1996 and 2007, each time lasting about three years. FC Edmonton is an anomaly in Edmonton’s history, lasting seven years. Roberts says he “hopes something comes around in the next few years.” If history repeats itself, there will be a new soccer team in Edmonton and hopefully they will last longer than the Edmonton Drillers.
– Steven Smith
Image via FC Edmonton