The announcement hadn't even been made yet, and already the critics were out in full force.
"We need a foreigner to come in and run Canadian soccer!"
"Typical CSA – another 'old boy' appointed from within!"
Tony Fonseca was announced as the CSA's new Technical Director on Tuesday, ending the association's three-year absence of technical leadership. Fonseca takes over the position last held in 2009 by former men's national team coach, Stephen Hart.
In a twist that will confound the critics, Fonseca is a foreigner who has worked for the CSA for the best part of a decade.
Fonseca's previous position at the CSA was as the men's High Performance Director. That role saw him responsible for expanding and enhancing the development of high performance programming in Canada for the men's national team program from U-15 through to the U-20 levels, as well as the Futsal and Beach Programs. As Technical Director, he will be responsible for everything from the implementation of LTPD to the development of elite players for our national team player pools.
A former Portuguese international, Fonseca moved to Canada in 1999 to join the Vancouver Whitecaps. He retired from playing the following year, and took up the position of head coach of the Whitecaps in 2002, then the position of club Technical Director in 2004. In subsequent years, he has served as head coach or assistant coach for many of the CSA's national teams.
While Fonseca has worked in numerous capacities for the CSA in previous years, he is not what any reasonable person could call an 'old boy'. He wasn't appointed based on tenure, nor on some backroom campaign of favouritism. He was appointed because he was qualified to do the job.
Fonseca is a foreigner who has lived in Canada long enough to have a very good understanding of not only Canadian soccer, but also of Canadian culture. That could be a great asset for him as he embarks on the most difficult job in Canadian soccer.
We have a nation full of intelligent football minds. What we lack is someone who can bring those minds together, to harness their collective knowledge, and create a plan to take the game forward in Canada. More than anything else, the Technical Director's role is to unify the country, so that every province is working from the same guidelines.
Having lived in Canada for over a decade, Fonseca is very familiar with the landscape of the game in our country. To be successful in his job, Fonseca needs to be able to inspire, to stand in front of an audience of skeptics and win them over; convince them that by working together, we can take the game forward in a positive way.
He doesn't have to have every answer to every problem that plagues the game in Canada – no one in the world would be able to meet that criteria. But he does need to be able to reach out to those individuals in Canada who can help solve our problems, and convince them to get involved and to work together.
Criticizing the CSA has turned into a hobby for many people. Unfortunately, those same critics show no desire whatsoever to get involved in fixing the game in Canada. They are content to be armchair experts with all the answers, to pass judgment on those who are actually trying to help grow the game. Why get involved in trying to fix our problems, when it is far easier (and safer) to stay at arm's length and be a critic?
There will be plenty of naysayers about the appointment of Fonseca – there are always more people who want to criticize than offer support to the man placed in charge - but Fonseca's blend of overseas experience and Canadian know-how could be just what the CSA needs right now to turn the game in the right direction.