Atlético Ottawa has signed the promising local youngster Antoine Coupland for the 2020 Canadian Premier League season. Where the first signing, Ben Fisk, brought experience and credibility, this signing brings the youth and potential elements into play.
Antoine Coupland is the 16-year-old prospect who began his pro career at the age of 15 after featuring in three games last season with the now-defunct Ottawa Fury.
The left-footed midfielder graduated from Ottawa’s St. Anthony soccer club’s Futuro Soccer Academy.
“Having Antoine join Atlético Ottawa is exciting,” said club CEO Fernando Lopez, via a club statement Thrusday. “He is a young talent with incredible potential. Having made his professional debut at the age of 15 is a testament to his passion and drive for the game and we are looking forward to working with him to develop his talent.”
He was offered a trial by English club Sheffield United, but decided to sign with the Fury instead last July.
I had the chance to discuss with him his thoughts on the upcoming season. Here’s what he had to say:
So, how excited are you to sign with a team owned by Atlético Madrid?
“It’s very, very exciting. It’s amazing being able to play, you know, like I think Atlético is going to offer us a lot of support and I think this could create a pathway, eventually, for young soccer players like me, or other players that are eventually going to sign through to Atlético. I know they are going to provide a lot of help for the Ottawa team.”
What do you believe you can bring to the team this year?
“I think I’m a very mature player and I think I can bring a lot of creativity upfront. So my offensive production. I like to score goals, my ability to score goals, my ability to make those decisive passes that can create goals. So a lot offensively but also I know my role defensively. It’s as important to create offensively but also to come back and help defensively in my attacking midfield role.”
Where will Atlético Ottawa finish in the 2020 CPL table?
- Middle of the table (32%, 47 Votes)
- Playoff spot (29%, 43 Votes)
- Top of the table (20%, 29 Votes)
- Bottom of the table (18%, 27 Votes)
Total Voters: 146
How was your experience playing for the Fury last year and what did you learn from it?
“It was a great experience. I built a lot of good relationships with players I could also call my mentors. Like for example, Jamar Dixon, Callum Irving, Thomas Meilleur-Giguère who now actually play in the CPL and I think all three of them are at Pacific (FC). And I learned a lot through not only them, but a lot through other players that its very important that you put in the hours off the field, like into the gym or into how you eat and your sleeping patterns so that’s a basic thing that I learned from last year. I think that definitely this year I’m going to learn even more under coach Mista who himself has experience professionally.”
What are your expectations for yourself for the upcoming season?
“So, my expectations, obviously, I am going to start from the beginning. So pre-season, as you know, last year with the Fury I didn’t get to be part of that preseason process and everything. So for myself, start preseason and work hard on and off the field. Like I said, sleep, eat well, go work those hours in the gym to get even stronger and obviously just do my thing on the field. I’m hoping to obviously to get more minutes as opposed to last year when I got less minutes. So my goal is to get more minutes on the field and more playing time through my performances in practice and off the field.”
How do you deal with the pressure of playing professionally at such a young age?
“I think it’s very difficult. I’m very lucky to have supportive parents and a supportive family who through the ups and downs support me all the time. For example my family, they drive me everywhere. Because I still can’t drive, so they drive me everywhere. So obviously its hard and you always have your ups and downs. So you have to talk to yourself, and deal with the downs and when you’re up, it’s important to stay humble and remain that way to not lift you feet off of the earth.”
What aspect of your game do you think comes easiest to you? What’s the most natural aspect of your game?
“I’d say probably dribbling, finishing and scoring goals. Let’s say dribbling the first one and scoring goals the second one. I think once I get the ball at my feet, often, I like to dribble and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. I think that’s a little bit natural for me. My finishing obviously could get better. My striking technique could get better. But I think I have that natural ability to hit the back of the net.”
It must be really unique for you to start your professional career playing in an all-Canadian league. It must be very exciting for you to do that.
“Yeah, it’s very special to be able to play where I grew up. And where I made my professional debut at TD Place. It’s a great facility. Ottawa has a great fan base. And its very special to be able to play every game in front of my friends and in front of my family. And obviously for the CPL. It’s a young league, with a lot of promise and its important to focus on developing Canadian players and that’s exactly what the CPL are doing. For them (the Canadian players) to eventually go to Europe as we know with Tristan Borges.”
For the long-time Ottawa soccer fans Antoine Coupland’s story, though just beginning, is what they had been waiting for and highlights the importance of the CPL.
A promising local player with talent being able to begin their professional journey, right here in the nation’s capital.
If Atlético Ottawa can cultivate that pathway to success, his story will be the first of many for them, and is very good news for Ottawa soccer fans.