I want to invite you into a story about TSS Rovers FC, a little soccer club I am involved in that is doing amazing things. We are about to become the first semi-pro soccer club in Canada to have a significant amount of supporter ownership. Our initial share offering closes on March 9, and you buy into to this club now here: https://www.frontfundr.com/tssrovers. But read on to find out why i think this matters.
On the morning of August 6th, 2021 I sat glued to my TV screen absolutely riveted by the possibility of Canada winning a gold medal in women’s soccer at the Tokyo Olympics. After a tournament in which the team had dug deep against better teams and bitter rivals, they stood poised to capture a gold against Sweden. Nothing was certain as the match went to penalties, and as a long time supporter of Canadian soccer I found myself consumed only with hope, pleading with the soccer deities that our surse would be lifted.
And then when Julia Grosso scored the winning penalty, she ran into the arms of Jordyn Huitema and I burst into tears of relief, joy, pride, and astonishment.
On May 25, 2018 these same two women had appeared in a match between TSS Rovers and the Whitecaps women’s academy. Both women were on our roster, but Huitema had been loaned back to the Whitecaps for the match, as Bev Preistman was warming up her side for a U20 National Team match. The football was magnificent, and despite Rovers dropping a 3-2 result, the small groups of us there knew we were watching something special.
This country has been begging for a moment like what we witnessed on August 6, or indeed what we have witnessed this year as the Men’s National Team has found itself at the top of the table half way through the final round of CONCACAF qualification for the 2026 World Cup., Unless you were the parent of a player or one of the few involved in the development of talent in this country, all we had been able to do was stand by and watch, cheering from the sidelines, supporting where we could.
But the call has gone out to support Canadian soccer as we take the next step into the international game. Whether it is the call of the women for a professional league in this country, or the glaring deficit of BC-born and developed players on our men’s national team, the time is now to up our game.
When Colin Elmes, Brendan Quarry and Will Cromack had the idea to create TSS Rovers as a USL League 2 and later a WPSL franchise back in 2016, it was a thought based on a dream and a desire to meet this challenge with whatever tools they had. The idea quickly became a reality and it caught my imagination and that of a few local soccer supporters in the Vancouver area, who had long dreamed of investing in something tangible, of meaningfully supporting a team that was committed to do everything it could to build the Canadian game. Determined to play their games at iconic Swangard Stadium, the home of so many National team and Vancouver Whitecaps memories, the dream caught fire. I was astonished at the audacity of what TSS Rovers was doing, and I just had to be a part of it.
It was clear from the beginning they knew that if nothing else, this Dream would only succeed if supporters also saw the need and were given a way to make it happen.
On the basis of this simple and open invitation, The Swanguardians were formed, from a group of die-hard Canadian soccer supporters who could finally taste meaningful involvement in this effort. From the very first match in 2017, when the players assembled the supporters’ section themselves, the club has doubled down on what it means to offer supporters meaningful partnerships in the effort. They included the voices of supporters in the work of the club. Some of us were appointed to the TSS Rovers Advisory Board and in 2019 we began to imagine what it would be like to create a meaningful supporter stake in the Rovers Dream.
After three years of work, imagination, hard yards, and due diligence, we finally arrived at the idea of creating a Supporters Trust to seek an ownership stake in the club. The owners saw the opportunity to offer all supporters a chance to put their money where their mouth is and they made 49% of the ownership of the club available. Through much of 2021, the club and the nascent Trust worked hard to make this next dream a reality.
And we did it. On December 9 I purchased 4 shares in Rovers Football Club Ltd, and our Dream became a reality. Our initial offering runs until March 9 and you can be an owner too.
We have now made history as the first club in Canada to have actual equity ownership offered to supporters. We are one of a handful of clubs in North America that have catalyzed their communities into getting behind the dream of developing local players and moving them into the professional and national team ranks. There is no more tangible way to make a difference for Canadian soccer than investing in it and being a part of directing it, and this is the way to do it.
Until now, supporters of Canadian soccer could only stand by and watch as a small group of Canadian players, coaches, technical staff and investors tried to build the success that our national program has currently found. The establishment of the CPL has given a boost to the men’s game and the women are now loudly and rightly calling for a league of their own.
With the establishment of League1 BC, we now have a semi-professional environment in BC and a place for the Rovers Dream to continue for both women and men. And with the sale of ownership equity in TSS Rovers, the door is wide open for every person who said “we need to do more” to get on board, build on our success and deepen the pathways for players to take our country to the next level.
It is one thing to watch from the sidelines and cheer on our players, and another thing entirely to be tangibly invested in success for the future.
Whether it is that powerful blast of emotions I felt when Grosso and Huitema won their medals, the surge of pride I experience watching Jordan Haynes and Matteo Polisi lift the CPL Championship Shield, or the satisfaction of watching Joel Waterman winning a Voyageurs Cup and playing against the top teams in CONCACAF, that pride is born from the fact that over the past four years, I watched and sang for all of those players in the red and black of TSS Rovers. They answered the call and their success is just the beginning. And we who are connected to them, are riding the energy of their success.
We used to joke that “we don’t know what we are doing” But that has changed. We know exactly what we are doing. We are behind the calls of our national team players to get involved. We are meeting the hunger that supporters have to own a stake in the future. We are serious about the work now, and we couldn’t be more proud to be breaking the ground.
Join us now and be a part of history. There is space on this train for everyone to participate in what we are doing at TSS Rovers. And when we open our inaugural League1 BC season at Swanguard in May, we will do so in front of hundreds of people who are not just ticket buyers, or fans of the game or supporters of the club, but real owners who have purchased a stake in the future of Canadian soccer.
See you there.