April 19, 2006 CPSL Brampton Stallions pre-season story (Brampton Guardian)

The Brampton Guardian
Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

New-look Stallions prepare for CPSL season


With a new co-owner, a new coach and a new team philosophy, the Brampton Stallions soccer team is set to raise the curtain on their 2006 Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL) season with one promise-- this year will be different.

Last season was not kind to the Stallions. Tension surrounded the team on and off the field with the muddled ownership situation, and a porous sixth place finish.

Owner Joe Fuliere headed into the off-season with one thing on his mind, to right the ship and create stability for the franchise. The first step to those means, was finding a partner in ownership that he could work with.

Team athletic therapist Nino Sonsini is that guy.

"Sonsini is familiar with the team as the head trainer and therapist, and he knows the game of soccer, and he's also a good friend of mine," states Fuliere. "I remain the majority owner of the team but in Sonsini I have both a partner and a right hand man."

With the ownership situation stabilized, Fuliere turned his attention to the other glaring need of the team, a new coach. From a list of candidates he chose Dominic Picicci.

"Picicci has been involved in the game of soccer for more then 20 years. In him I have a coach who is on the same page as me strategically," said Fuliere.

According to Fuliere, Picicci also has strong ties to soccer at the grassroots level, coaching Etobicoke youth soccer for the past 13 years. Fuliere believes this experience should benefit the team's younger players.

Picicci is excited about the upcoming season with the team's core players returning, including CPSL second team all star forward Hugo Herrara who finished among the league leaders in scoring last year. Overall, Picicci feels this team's success hinges on its ability to be offensive.

"Strategies always change depending on the direction any particular game takes, but I think with the talent we have here, this team is capable of being an offensive force," said Picicci.

Which doesn't bother owner Fuliere one bit.

"Win or lose, I believe offense is the way to go," said Fuliere. "We are here to entertain the fans, not bore them with defensive play. There is a lot of multi-cultural talent on this team and they are also a very young team, so those are our strengths. Playing offensive draws on these strengths," Fuliere added.

The CPSL hopes to add an international flavour to its game, with the creation of an international division. They hope the new division will feed off ethnic rivalries, with teams not only representing communities but also ethnicities. This has worked in Toronto, but in Brampton the team needs the support of the whole community.

"If you have a successful product on the field, you have something your community can be proud of. You give your community bragging rights, and bragging rights create rivalry. In turn, rivalries spark interest and create publicity," says Fuliere. "The success of this league depends upon making the players recognizable to the community, to get the fans bragging about their teams."

Fuliere believes that one of the key strengths to this team is that many of the Stallion players are active members of the community.

"They (the players) are paid professionals, but they are contributing community members as well. We have police officers, firefighters; you name it, on this team. They're ordinary people, easy for the common soccer fan to relate to."

Over the next few weeks the team will complete its player selection for this year's team from last year's players, followed by a tryout camp of any players from the community looking for a spot.

The CPSL season runs from May through to October, with four teams each in the Eastern and Western Conferences, and five teams in the newly formed International Conference. The CPSL championship game is played in October and is known as the Rogers Cup.

"Our league is on its way up, the fan base is increasing and expansion remains healthy," said Picicci. "The entertainment value is very good and people are starting to realize that it takes a high skill set to play in this league."

The Brampton Stallions home games are played at Victoria Park Stadium. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for youths, and $6 for seniors.

For more ticket information contact the Brampton Stallions at 905-795-8099 and for further information on team player try out, volunteers, or Stallion sponsorship contact Joe Fuliere at 416-688-6439 or Nino Sonsini at 416-575-2710.

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