C/O Canadian Premier League / Chant Photography

With the season being up in the air, Forge Football Club still prevails in the end.

Forge Football Club, Hamilton’s team in the Canadian Premier League, won their back-to-back championship after scoring two-nil against the Halifax Wanderers Football Club in the title game of the 2020 season.

A typical season consists of 28 matches lasting from April to October; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was shortened. It has become known as the Island Games, comprised of seven matches between the eight teams in the first stage, utilizing a round-robin format. Afterwards, the tournament goes into the group stage, in which the top four teams compete against one another. The top two teams advance and compete against each other for the title.

Kyle Bekker, the captain and player with the highest score on the team, understood that he had to bring the team together to get the morale high to compete at such great levels. 

“We spoke about it just being a business trip and knew what guys were giving up and the sacrifices people are making to go make a tournament happen and going away from family and loved ones for a significant time. If we’re going to do this, we’re coming back home with the trophy at the end of the day . . . It became militant at times. It was a battle every single day. We got [to the final game] and we achieved that . . . There’s obviously good days and bad days in the bubble. We just have to get on with it,” said Bekker. 

“We spoke about it just being a business trip and knew what guys were giving up and the sacrifices people are making to go make a tournament happen and going away from family and loved ones for a significant time. If we’re going to do this, we’re coming back home with the trophy at the end of the day . . . It became militant at times. It was a battle every single day. We got [to the final game] and we achieved that . . . There’s obviously good days and bad days in the bubble. We just have to get on with it,” said Bekker. 

David Edgar, former Premier League player for Newcastle United Football and centre-back on Forge FC, echoed similar sentiments as Bekker. Edgar exclaimed that carrying the mentality before the pandemic into the bubble is what propelled them to the championship, despite having to leave a young family for such a long time. 

“This [tournament] was extra hard. But in all honesty, I attacked it like a prison sentence, where you mentally focus and lock in for one job only. Yeah, you miss certain things and meals. But winning it makes it worthwhile,” said Edgar. 

“This [tournament] was extra hard. But in all honesty, I attacked it like a prison sentence, where you mentally focus and lock in for one job only. Yeah, you miss certain things and meals. But winning it

Edgar went on to say that the bubble was very unique and acted as a family with other teams there. “It’s also not the friendliest of places, lots of testosterone running around with the competition. You go about your business and hold yourself to certain standards,” said Edgar. 

David Edgar cheers on Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson scoring the first goal of the match at the 60th minute. C/O Canadian Premier League / Chant Photography

Despite the team having won a championship the previous season, they knew the pressure of a title game doesn’t change. 

“We definitely felt the weight of it being a championship game. We were lucky enough to have a core group from our first year come back and be a part of this, which definitely helped . . . But going into that final game, the excitement will always be there. Definitely, a feeling of we been here and we know what was expected of us,” said Bekker. “It felt more unique. Overall, we won both now and that’s the hardest thing to do. We won in a league and tournament football and you can’t afford to lose in a tournament,” said Edgar of repeating as champions.

“We definitely felt the weight of it being a championship game. We were lucky enough to have a core group from our first year come back and be a part of this, which definitely helped . . . But going into that final game, the excitement will always be there. Definitely, a feeling of we been here and we know what was expected of us,” said Bekker.

After their championship victory comes their first match of the 2020 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football League, having qualified from winning the 2019 season of the CPL, playing in El Salvador. The team will play against Municipal Limeño of El Salvador. Bobby Smyrniotis, head coach of the team, says that with the El Salvadorian league commencing Oct. 10, it gives them two matches to view their opponent’s playstyle to prepare for the match. “[I] gave the [players] a full week off to decompress then back [to] work at Tim Horton’s Field, six days a week . . . Looking forward to another opportunity to compete continentally for our club. The guys really relish the opportunity to play,” said Smyrniotis.

“[I] gave the [players] a full week off to decompress then back [to] work at Tim Horton’s Field, six days a week . . . Looking forward to another opportunity to compete continentally for our club. The guys really relish the opportunity to play,” said Smyrniotis.

Their match against Municipal Limeño will happen on Thurs, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m.

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