Winning titles, global signings, high profits: Cavalry’s road to success
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Success Stories
Winning titles, global signings, high profits: Cavalry’s road to success
by Jack Hyom

Formed in 2018, Canadian Premier League Shield winners in 2023, see how Cavalry FC have opened up the transfer market on TransferRoom and are delivering on the pitch while driving global interest for their top talents.

I believe we have the most unique football club in the world and one that I am honoured to be able to lead. Within five years of the Canadian Premier League launching in 2019, we have been able to create opportunities for young Canadian players, while also creating life experiences for international players.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr
General Manager & Head Coach, Cavalry FC

Creating opportunities for Canadian players

 

Cavalry won the first-ever Canadian Premier League Shield by finishing top of the table in the 2023 regular season and made a series of high-profile transfers to and from European teams, in a landmark year for the club.

 

Their exploits on the pitch and ability to drive interest from a global network of clubs in the transfer market has been helped by being on TransferRoom. They joined world football's digital marketplace in 2022, gaining real-time intelligence and direct access to the decision makers at more than 700 clubs from 100 leagues in over 60 countries.

 

The Calgary-based club were only founded in 2018 and while it can take a lifetime to build a network of clubs around the world, Tommy Wheeldon Jr, their Head Coach and General Manager, and Assistant GM Tofa Fakunle now have a huge contacts book at their fingertips.

 

“I believe we have the most unique football club in the world and one that I am honoured to be able to lead,” Wheeldon Jr says. “Within five years of the Canadian Premier League launching in 2019, we have been able to create opportunities for young Canadian players, while also creating life experiences for international players.

 

“During these five seasons, we have accumulated the most regular season points of any club, while also generating the highest profit margin in sales.

 

“We have been able to combine winning and development, without compromising our values. In addition to this, we are developing an industry off the pitch for many more opportunities that includes five of our original players that are now working on the other side of the touchline within our club.”

 

Over the last year, there have been a series of international player sales for Cavalry. Joel Waterman joined fellow Canadian side CF Montreal and Aribim Pepple is in the Premier League with Luton Town. Victor Loturi (Ross County) and Goteh Ntignee (FC Annecy) have also moved to Europe.

 

Ntignee joined FC Annecy for a CPL-record transfer fee,

 

“Transferring Ntignee to FC Annecy in the summer for a CPL record fee was very gratifying as it involved all areas of our football department such as: recruitment, development of physical, technical & tactical abilities and psychological support, Oliver Minatel, the Head of Recruitment at Cavalry FC, says.

 

Wheeldon Jr adds: “The Canadian Premier League was designed to create opportunities for young Canadian players.

 

“For the club, it’s a part of our football business to create a transfer fee that can be reinvested into the infrastructure that we’re trying to build. And for the league, it just shows we’re living by our words — a league for Canadians by Canadians creating great opportunities.”

 

Fakunle, who attended the 2022 TransferRoom Americas Summit in Orlando (pictured below), adds: “We have another good crop of exciting young players breaking through that have generated interest this season, such as Eryk Kobza and Maël Henry. Both played significant minutes in our campaign and hold European passports.”

 

Tofa Fakunle

 

The partnership with TransferRoom highlights Cavalry FC’s ambition to significantly expand their market access further and achieve success in the international transfer market, and not just from a selling point of view.

 

Cavalry made a Summer 2023 signing of William Akio from Loturi’s new club Ross County, and the striker hit the ground running with five goals in 10 matches to fire them to the CPL Shield.

 

Fakunle says: “I love the data part of TransferRoom. It helps us to communicate to our players that, ‘This is where you’re at.’

 

"It also helps us to compare players that we are recruiting to see how they would do in our league based on numbers that they may have had in the first division in Sweden or Norway, etc. It’s hugely beneficial that way.

 

“I love how direct TransferRoom is. You can put an advert out saying, ‘This is what we need,’ and get pitches instantly. The interaction we have with the club right away is good too.”

 

Foreign restrictions

 

Each CPL team is allowed seven foreign players in their squads, of which four must be acquired through a centralised scouting pool, which contains around 50 international players aged 23 and under at any one time. 

 

The pool was introduced to ensure the CPL does not become flooded with older international players that harm the development of local talent.

 

Indeed, six Canadians have to be named in the starting XI, and each team’s Under-21 Canadians have to play at least 1,500 minutes per season combined.

 

It means young Canadians, like Loturi, are given game time and do not slip through the net. 

 

Oliver Gage, the former Director of Football at the CPL, told TransferRoom while in the role in 2021: “There are loads of Canadian players here good enough to play elsewhere. They just need the opportunities.

 

“You can’t always play these players at 18, 19, 20 when you are chasing wins in MLS, but they are good enough in the CPL to help you win. When they are ready they move upwards; that’s good for the player, the buying club and the selling club.”

 

Lead photo courtesy of Jim Wells (Postmedia)

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