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photo by Dan Cress

Two U of O students play

in professional soccer

ON A COOL September night, Ottawa’s newest professional sports franchise, Capital City Football Club, laid a beating on the St. Catharines’ Roma Wolves, defeating them 6-0 at the Terry Fox Stadium. Despite the temperature, the modest crowd in attendance had no difficulty staying warm; they were up and out of their seats early and often with Capital City escalating their offence in their third last home game of the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) season. Even with their starters resting, including two University of Ottawa stars, Capital City looked unbeatable.

Capital City has fared extremely well in their campaign as part of the 14 team First Division CSL, and this night was no exception. From the opening kickoff, Capital City dominated the play, controlling possession and using their speed to force the Wolves into defensive mistakes.

Nineteen minutes in, Capital City forward Mahir Hadziresic found the back of the net with a strike. Four minutes later Hadziresic sunk his second goal, with forwards Sullivan Silva-Oliveriva and Nathaniel Foster each adding two goals of their own later in the game.

Two key athletes who have made an impact on Capital City’s success can be found walking the halls right here at the University of Ottawa. Midfielder Damiem Merette-Rolon and defender Francis Letourneau-Mathieu are full-time U of O students. Merette-Rolon is a second-year biochemistry student who returned to Ottawa after playing in Brazil, and Letourneau-Mathieu, a third-year communications and business administration student, is currently playing for his first professional team.

Both must deal with the dual commitments of academics and athletics, something they both find challenging and rewarding.

“It’s tough,” explained Merette-Rolon. “I have practice in the morning with the team, leave a bit early, shower quickly, go to class, get home, study, train a bit more, and then do it all over again. Teachers try to help as much as possible, scheduling in advance so I try not to get behind.”

“It keeps me busy trying to arrange my schedule to find a balance,” said Letourneau-Mathieu. “Playing here is great. I never thought Ottawa would have a team and it’s my dream to play at the same time as earn my degree.”

Merette-Rolon discovered Capital City after one of his chemistry exams. He had been looking for a competitive team to join since returning from Brazil, where he was playing professionally.

“Doing an exam afterwards I came home and heard about a tryout for this professional team I had never heard of. I couldn’t make the tryout because of my exam, but I went to the second tryout over the weekend and I made it. It just fell out of the sky, it was perfect,” he said.

The students’ hard work is paying off on the score sheet. Head coach Shaun Harris noticed their impact early on in the season, commenting on their talent and future.

“We are trying to get them back on the short foot from a playing standpoint,” said Harris. “[They are] two very inspiring players and they’ve had their moments both this season. I think it’s been good for them, and we have four or five players like that who are the future of this organization.”

—Dan Cress