VICTORIA, BC — In their second ever game Pacific FC hosted Valour FC from Winnipeg. While Sunday’s fixture was a complete sellout, the Westhills Stadium was not completely packed for this matchday 2 fixture.
Somewhat understandable perhaps given that this was Pacific FC’s second game in just four days and Wednesday nights are always a tough sell. That said 2,360 visitors still came out to take in the action.
Among them were at least six fans from Winnipeg who made the journey from Manitoba to British Columbia.
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) May 2, 2019
“I went through three seasons to get here, there was spring, winter and summer. We are in the middle, so we sort of lucked out,” Valour FC supporter Kyle Gilson told Pro Soccer USA.
“I had to go from Winnipeg to Edmonton, then Vancouver before finally getting here [Vancouver Island],” Gilson added.
These fans, however, did not want to miss this historic moment. “I think I will have to fight back tears when I finally see this team take to the field,” Becky Cody admitted.
For Winnipeg fans, the trip was certainly worth it. Their club won their first ever game beating Pacific FC 2-1 thanks to goals by Stephen Hoyle (23′) and Dylan Carreiro (78′). Meanwhile, 19-year-old Canadian Jose Hernández scored Pacific FC’s lone goal in the 45th minute.
Out once again in full force to support the home team was Pacific FC’s main fan group the Lake Side Buoys. The fan organization was founded in 2008 under the name Bravehearts to support the local PDL club Victoria Highlanders.
One year later the Bravehearts became the Lake Side Buoys, named after a small pond behind the west stand. “We didn’t want to be incorporated anymore, so we decided to become Lake Side Buoys on pub night,” Mike Schlodder told Pro Soccer USA.
“[The first game] was surreal. First, we did the tailgate outside the stadium at 10 o’clock, and then we marched in, and you could feel the energy,” Schlodder describes the experience of walking into the ground for the first time.”I never thought I would see 5,000 fans sitting in this stadium.”
“Right now we are at ten years of Lake Side Buoys and the first year of professional soccer, so that is pretty big for us,” Schlodder added.
The pond is still there, but the Lake Side Buoys are now on the east stand. Furthermore, the group has grown and now includes a significant South American contingent.
“When we heard they are going to bring soccer to us, wow, why not! It brings a bunch of crazy people together,” Brazilian fan Carlos Quijano told Pro Soccer USA. “But it isn’t just Brazilians. We have Brazilians, Chileans and there is even a guy from Kosovo. All countries really.”
What unites all the fans is the general excitement for a professional league.
“It is good, it is fast and hard, Canadian,” Quijano said. “My expectations are that this club and the league will grow. There will be growing pains in the first years,” Schlodder added.
“But over the next few years as we get closer to the World Cup in 2026, this will be a huge league, and we will compete with MLS. Because this league is homegrown,” Schlodder pointed out.
For many Canadian soccer fans, the birth of their own national league is indeed an emotional moment.
“To have a league for my two-year-old that he is actually going to be able to watch a professional football team playing in. That is important to me, so yeah it is emotional,” Gilson concluded.