For the second time in five years, the TRU men’s soccer will be hosting the U SPORTS nationals at Hillside stadium. On July 3, 2020, it was announced that TRU was the winning bid for the 2022 U SPORTS nationals.
The Wolfpack men’s soccer team previously hosted nationals in 2017 where they earned a bronze medal in front of a packed home crowd. The tournament was a major success and put TRU on the map in terms of credibility, sport, and infrastructure.
The Omega spoke to head coach John Antulov to gain insight into how this all materialized: “Obviously we are super happy about it. It gives us a lot of exposure Canada wide which is what we want for our program. Basically, we looked at where we would be in 2022 in terms of what core group of players we would have along with new recruits we would acquire. After doing that I approached the higher-ups and they agreed to put in the bid,” explained Antulov.
“We actually put in the bid for 2021, but they gave us 2022 instead which we were happy with.” As mentioned, the 2017 nationals was a great success, not only did TRU win a medal after being the last ranked team heading into the tournament, but a lot of U SPORTS officials said that it was the best nationals they had ever attended. “A lot of them said it was the best run, most organized nationals they had been to. Furthermore, it was profitable, which doesn’t happen very often with these tournaments,” Antulov exclaimed. “The fact that we had all these components along with our success in the past, I think made it a no brainer for U-Sports to pick us.”
Antulov can now use this news as a bargaining chip to recruit even more talent when a player is deciding which university to attend. It definitely helps to tell a potential recruit that he is guaranteed to play in the national tournament given the fact that the host receives a buy into the competition whether they qualify or not.
Despite this guarantee into the tournament, TRU is looking to qualify on their own terms and furthermore win the national title.
“We think we will be a national contender. We aren’t looking for another bronze medal. We want to change that colour,” Antulov stated.
Along with team success, facilities, infrastructure, community backing and university backing are some of the things that U SPORTS looks at when deciding on what school to choose to host.
The fact that Kamloops is the so-called “Tournament Capital of Canada” must have helped their case regarding why they are capable of hosting the nation’s top teams. Nevertheless, it should be wildly entertaining.
Eight of the best teams in the nation will be duelling it out to see who is the crowned champion. Look out for more news on the road to TRU men’s soccer hosting nationals in 2022.