Last Word On Soccer had the chance to interview Jason Armond from the Lake Side Buoys Pacific FC Supporter Group about the upcoming Pacific FC Season. We thank him for his time and candor. If interested, check our interview with Barton Battallion, Forge FC supporter group.
MK: Can you tell our readers a brief history of how you first came to be involved with Lake Side Buoys? Were you a supporter of another team in a different league beforehand?
JA: This is my fourth year serving as the President of the Lake Side Buoys. Being the head of a supporters’ group might make you think that I’ve been a lifelong football fanatic, but in fact, I’m actually one of the most junior fans of soccer currently in our membership.
The first soccer game I ever attended was at the behest of my good friend Ted Godwin, one of the founders of our group, way back in 2013. At the time, I wasn’t a fan of any organized sports, but Ted managed to talk me into attending a Victoria Highlanders (currently USL League Two) match at Westhills Stadium. At the time, the club was arranging bus travel for supporters from a downtown pub to the match. By the time we arrived, we were all sufficiently well lubricated. I had no idea what to expect, but getting tossed into the deep end, so to speak, I realized that if I were going to start attending soccer matches, I’d prefer remaining in the supporters’ section. It seemed like we were having the most fun.
I would imagine my story is a somewhat unique one, as I became a fan of supporting soccer before I became a fan of soccer. It wasn’t until I picked up a copy of FIFA 14 that I started to develop an understanding and appreciation for the intricacies (well, and the general rules) of the beautiful game itself. I still may not be able to debate for hours about teams in the English Premier League as most of our members can, but I like to think I can hold my own should the need to wax poetically about local soccer come up.
MK: If a fan wants to join the supporters’ group, how would they go about it? What does it mean to be a part of the group?
JA: The Lake Side Buoys have been in operation as a supporters’ group for ten years now, but that doesn’t mean we’re particularly well organized. We like to keep things somewhat loose and informal. So if fans want to come join us in the supporters’ section and bang on drums and join in chants, they are more than welcome to do so! Having said that, we do have an organized membership list with dues and annual general meetings and all that boring stuff. Being a paid member has some perks, like voting on AGM agenda items and exclusive swag, and if anyone is interested in that, they should head over to our website to get started. (https://lakesidebuoys.org)
As far as what it means to be a member of the Lake Side Buoys, I would say that it means different things to different people. To me, it has meant promoting participation and engagement in a sport that has a proven power to bring communities together as well as being a very loud and vocal part of that community. And I still believe we’re the ones having the most fun.
MK: Is there much interaction between the group and the management at Pacific FC? If so, have they been receptive to your ideas?
JA: Josh Simpson, Rob Friend, and Dean Shillington contacted us last year to get our input on the possibility of launching a CPL team in Victoria, back before anyone knew there was going to be one. Since our initial meeting at that focus group session, we’ve remained in close contact with Pacific FC’s head office. We’ve been fortunate that both Josh and Rob know exactly what a strong group of supporters can do for the home team’s morale during a game, and they want that same European atmosphere at Westhills Stadium. Because of that, they’ve been very willing to work with us when we had suggestions and input regarding the game day experience we’re hoping for. We’re also very excited to be working with Brad Norris-Jones, Pacific FC’s newest management acquisition, who has amazed us for years with his ability to make baseball an exciting destination in Victoria through his work with the Victoria HarbourCats. Brad has stated that he wants to make Pacific FC matches “the best show in town” and if anyone can pull that off, he can.
MK: It was recently announced that Forge FC would play host to Y9 for the official league season launch. With the full schedule days away from being announced, can you tell us what the SG has in store for those attending the first home match at Westhills Stadium?
JA: I could, but that’d be spoiling things, wouldn’t it? What I can say is we started working on our tifo for the opening day match months ago and that it will be memorable. The kickoff of that first match will be a huge historical moment in the story of the game here on Vancouver Island and we’re very excited to be a small part of that.
MK: On a personal note, is there a particular player you are most looking forward to seeing playing for Pacific FC this season?
JA: As a Whitecaps fan, I’d be very happy to see if the rumours are true regarding Marcel de Jong. Having had a chance to chat with Marcus Haber, I’m very excited to see what he can do for the club.
MK: If you could bring in a dream signing for the club — any player, any league — who would you want to see leading the team onto the pitch this April?
JA: I’m sure that other members of my group could go on and on about various players overseas, world-class legends – but personally, I would love to see Pacific FC sign Callum Montgomery. He was born on Vancouver Island, played with the Victoria Highlanders for several years, (winning our Supporters’ Choice Player of the Year Award twice) showed himself to have a solid tactical mind on the pitch and ended up as 4th overall in the 2019 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. He represents the kind of talent we can grow here on the island if the right opportunities are available. He’s gone on to Dallas FC, so I won’t be seeing him in Pacific FC colours any time soon, but I fully expect to be cheering for him someday as he’s wearing Canada’s red and white.
MK: As far as quality goes, what are you expecting from the league in its first season?
JA: As a Canadian soccer fan, I’ve learned that it’s important to temper your expectations. Having said that, I think the overall quality of the league will surprise many of the skeptics. I know for a fact that the ownership at Pacific FC are looking to make the best roster they possibly can and I have confidence that head coach Michael Silberbauer will be able to put it together to create something genuinely exciting to watch. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Josh Simpson and Rob Friend’s decisions and the people they’ve put in place to execute their vision.
What’s most exciting is that their enthusiasm for the future of Canadian soccer is not unique. We’ve talked with a lot of the key decision makers in the Canadian Premier League who share the same passion for building the game in Canada. People like Tommy Wheeldon Jr., who has been the head coach for the Calgary Foothills (USL League Two) for the last few years and has been putting all the pieces in place for his move to the CPL for likely just as long.
The first season will likely see some trial and error, some growing pains, but undoubtedly, some truly great football. It’ll be exciting to see it all unfold from the supporters’ section while beating on drums and waving our flags.
Thanks again to Jason Armond for taking the time. If you are interested in getting tickets, visit the Pacific FC website.