The connection between the FC London team that captured the USL Premier Development League championship on the weekend and the roots of minor soccer in Brantford runs deep.
FC London defeated the Carolina Dynamo 2-1 in Browns Summit, North Carolina, on Saturday to win the championship in the 73-team league that spans across the United States, Canada and Bermuda.
The London team’s owner, Ian Campbell, grew up and developed his love for soccer in Brantford under the guidance of his father.
“We moved to Brantford in 1958 from Glasgow, Scotland, and my dad, George Campbell, was involved in starting Brantford minor soccer and was president of the organization for many years,” Campbell said.
There is a park with soccer fields named George Campbell Park in West Brant, off Spalding Drive.
Ian played minor soccer in Brantford and attended North Park Collegiate before going to college in London, where he ended up settling down and running a software company called iCONECT.
When his son was aging out of minor soccer in London, Campbell realized many of the players on the team had nowhere to continue developing their game.
He purchased the USL Premier Development League franchise from Tampa Bay in 2009 and relocated it, naming it Forest City London.
“Myself and four other guys in ownership positions have run the team since then,” Campbell said. “Our goal was to give kids opportunities to showcase their skills.”
To that end, Campbell’s team has been very effective, with several players drafted to Major League Soccer, the top level in North America.
“We’ve tried to create something not unlike the Brantford Galaxy in the Canadian Soccer League, except with amateur players,” he said. “We have players from all over Ontario and even some internationals from Brazil, Germany and England.”