Honouring its history, the Winnipeg entry in the new Canadian Premier League will be called Valour FC.
The name is an homage to three Winnipeg men – Frederick William Hall, Leo Clarke and Robert Shankland – who lived on the same street and were each awarded the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s premier military decoration for gallantry, in the First World War.
Their street, Pine Street, was later renamed Valour Road.
The CPL franchise – which will be known simply as Valour FC rather than Winnipeg Valour FC – falls under the umbrella of the Winnipeg not-for-profit community organization that owns the CFL Blue Bombers.
“Any time you can honour the military and honour what individuals have done, we’re going to take that opportunity,” Bombers president and CEO Wade Miller said in an interview. “I just think it’s fitting for the team in Winnipeg to be called Valour FC.”
Valour FC will join Halifax’s HFX Wanderers, suburban Toronto’s York 9 FC, Calgary’s Cavalry FC and other founding clubs including Hamilton and Victoria when the men’s pro soccer league launches in the spring of 2019.
The CPL is expected to have 10 members by the end of the year with eight taking part in the 2019 season. Edmonton and Ottawa are widely expected to be among those joining the lineup.
The new Winnipeg franchise will play on artificial turf at Investors Group Field, one of the stadiums used at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The club’s colours are listed as “Valour Maroon,” “Wheat Gold” and “Earth Black.”
The team says the Valour FC crest draws its inspiration from the Victoria Cross medal, with a V emulating a folded ribbon wrapped by the circle of the maroon medal.
The centre of the V represents the meeting point of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. The right side of the V also creates a W, for the city of Winnipeg.
The arc of wheat at the top of the crest “symbolizes the thriving agriculture industry that has been a mainstay in the province and has grown into an iconic Manitoban symbol.”
“Winnipeg boasts one of Canada’s top sporting communities,” CPL commissioner David Clanachan said in a statement. “It’s going to be amazing to see the community rally around the club and elevate soccer in the region for generations to come.”
Valour FC hopes to build on the fan excitement that the Winnipeg Jets built during the NHL playoffs.
“It’s a very exciting time,” said Miller. “We have the best sports fans in North America.
“You see the spirit they have for the hockey [team], with our football team. We have the CFL’s loudest fans. When they pack Investors Group Field, it is a loud place to play in, a hostile place. We have the best fans in the province.
“This is just going to be an opportunity for a whole additional group of people to get involved with their local professional soccer team.”
Valour FC already has an enthusiastic supporters group in Red River Rising, which showed its colours by marching to the team’s news conference Wednesday at Investors Group Field.
The club is accepting $50 early membership deposits to secure seats as of June 8. The average ticket price will be $20 a game for adults and $12 for youth.
The team’s coach and GM will be announced at a later date.