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Day 1 at Ontario Soccer Summit was electric

By Staff, 03/01/19, 10:15PM EST


Howard Webb had the audience eating out of the palm of his hands, while the Soccer Now Panel dug deep into the challenges our game faces.

Play. Inspire. Unite. 

The Ontario Soccer Summit 2019 got off to a roaring start Friday in London with a fantastic keynote speech, an invigorating panel discussion and exciting sessions throughout the day. 

In the Technical Leaders stream, powered by LaLiga, Anthony Capotosto, Toronto FC's Academy Director, got things going conducting an on field session that looked at Playing Across the Direct Game Channel and followed it up by conducting a classroom session which studied the Principles of Play. 

Gabriel Calderon Pellegrino from Real Betis Balompie and LaLiga was also on hand to run an on field session as well. 

The Match Official Stream, powered by MLS, kicked things off with Sonia Denoncourt, the former FIFA referee, returning to the Ontario Soccer Summit to lead an in-class session followed by an on field session. 

Matt Greenwood, the Executive Director of Pickering Soccer Club and Lyn Wallington, Ontario Soccer's Director of Member Relations and Human Resources each got the weekend underway with sessions in the Community Leaders stream, which is powered by the Canadian Premier League. 

As night fell, the line-ups began early to see Howard Webb, famed match official and General Manager of the Professional Referee Organization, in the weekend's first keynote speech. 

Prior to welcoming Webb to the stage, Bjorn Osieck, Ontario Soccer Director of Business Operations, delivered his Summit opening remarks. In his remarks, he noted the response from the local community, the province and across the country. 

"We were barely into February and realized that we had something special on our hands this year. This year, the Ontario Soccer Summit sold out and sold out in record time. This is a real testimony to all of you for your commitment to learning, networking and more importantly, hopefully what improvements you can bring back to your organizations."

Osieck concluded by playing a video outlining the organization's successes over the last strategic plan and pulled out key strategic initiatives the province will focus on between 2019-2021. 

Webb carried the momentum forward into the evening, regaling the audience with stories from his professional career and carrying the same presence that he used to have when he commanded the English Premier League games. 

Immediately following Webb was a spirited discussion by the Soccer Now Panel.

The panel, who included: Jason deVos (Director of Development, Canada Soccer), Ian Campbell (Owner and CEO, FC London), Diego Moratorio (General Manager, MLS Canada) and Roy Nasrala (Vice President of Marketing, Canadian Premier League) and Bill Manning (Toronto FC President), looked at the state of the game in Canada and what the future held for the sport. 

The evening concluded by honouring this year's Club Excellence Award winners and a reception held by the Elgin Middlesex Soccer Association. 

Find photos from the entire weekend

Visit the Ontario Soccer Facebook page for photos being updated throughout the weekend.