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Q&A: New Calgary Foothills FC coach Leon Hapgood discusses upcoming USL League Two season

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Calgary Foothills FC returns to the field this month to begin the defence of its USL League Two (formerly PDL) title that it won in 2018. The club kicks off its season on the road against Seattle Sounders U23 Friday. Its first home game will be against Burnaby, BC club TSS Rovers at Hellard Field in Calgary.

And while many players and staff from last season’s title winning side, including former manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr., have moved on to Calgary’s new professional soccer club Cavalry FC, and other Canadian Premier League teams, Foothills FC head coach Leon Hapgood says the club’s objectives remain the same – to win matches and develop talent.

Hapgood spoke to Total Soccer Project last month about the coming season and his life in football:

What are the objectives for Calgary Foothills FC going into the new USL League Two season?

“To win every game we play. Nothing changes because we lost some players,” said Leon Hapgood, Foothills FC head coach. “The philosophy is to try and win all our games and try and win the league.

“But now we have a younger team, with the number of players that have gone up to Cavalry FC and other CPL teams as well. So, the program’s working and we have to do the same with the next crop of young players coming though. But it’s the same objective.

What kind of challenges does Foothills FC face this season?

“Being a bit younger. I don’t like using youth as an excuse. Arabim Pepple is 16-years-old and he’s played three games for me this week and he will play minutes for me this season.

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“And being a bit more naïve in certain situations in games. We travel to Portland and Seattle and coming out of Calgary youth soccer is very different for a young player to make that jump.

“So, just to make sure we’re not naïve and make sure we’re always organized. To understand, as young players, we understand our roles and responsibilities and then for them to go on and enjoy themselves. These kids have to enjoy this game. There are some exciting things happening here (with Cavalry FC and CPL) and they’re on the same pathway. It’s up to them to take their chance.”

Which players should we look forward to seeing this season?

“(Forward) Tofa Fakunle is my captain. And I want Tofa to do really well. He’s right on the cusp of something and he’s got to go and have a breakout season.

Cavalry FC, Canadian Premier League, Spruce Meadows, ATCO Field

Calgary Foothills FC’s Tofa Fakunle, bottom right, tussles with Cavalry FC’s Nathan Mavila in a preseason match at ATCO Field in April. Photo: ©Stuart Gradon/Total Soccer Project

“With the new players that have come in, Euan Bauld is a brilliant centre back – I think he’s brilliant. He’s a leader. He’s a warrior, but he can play. He organizes. I think he’ll be somebody, that come the end of the season, a lot of people are going to be talking about.”

What’s your background and history in the game?

“I played professionally in England for eight or nine years in the southwest – Plymouth, Yeovil, Torquay United. And then I played some non-league in the area. And then started coaching. I turned the ripe old age of 28-years-old and Tommy (Wheeldon Jr.) phoned me and said, ‘I’m starting project with this club called Foothills FC and I want you to come and be a part of it. I love your energy and your passion.’

“I said, ‘I’ll give you one year.’ I moved to Canada and ten years later, I’m still here. I love coaching. Coaching’s what I do best. I’m really proud and pleased for Tom to do the things he’s doing now. My job is to now really continue the work we laid together of the past 10 years. Keep moving it forward. Find more young players. And now there’s more opportunity for them.”


Calgary Foothills FC is a under-23 club that plays in the USA-based USL League Two. Tickets are available online at www.foothillsfc.ca/tickets/.

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Stuart Gradon

Editor of Total Soccer News | Photographer and Writer | Stuart Gradon is soccer journalist and multimedia professional, having worked at 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. He covers Cavalry FC and Canadian Premier League.

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