Inside the online press conferences at the Canadian Premier League’s (CPL) Island Games was 12-year-old Jack Murray and his dad, Andrew, prepped with a list of questions for their blog, CPL Fever.
A soccer fanatic, Jack’s deep love for soccer stems from watching Spain’s ‘golden generation’ from 2008-2012. Over a decade later, his passion remains, practicing as a player up to five times a week (sometimes in his turf-fitted basement at home).
However, he’s not the average fan. Outside training, Jack is also an amateur journalist who has interviewed more than a dozen CPL players and coaches alongside his dad. The father-son duo is a prime example of how the CPL continues to inspire young Canadian fans.
Before the league’s existence, Jack and Andrew bonded by watching European soccer leagues and uploading match reviews onto YouTube. In the CPL’s inaugural season, they started covering their hometown team, HFX Wanderers.
“I always wanted a local professional team and I thought that a league in Canada would be so cool,” said Jack. “I was so happy when they announced it, I was jumping up and down.”
One year later at the Island Games, they decided to expand their content and applied for media passes. For Andrew, the experiential learning is invaluable.
“When we started CPL Fever, we wanted to interview players but kind of around a different topic. We really want to get into their stories,” said Andrew.
“I want Jack and other aspiring players to see that these guys have not just had a straight path to becoming a professional. There’s been ups and downs, they’ve been cut, they’ve needed to overcome things. So, we wanted to get into the personal side of their journey.”
Despite having no prior experience, the wide-eyed boy reports like a seasoned journalist. Andrew noted his son’s experience as a Wanderers’ ball boy in 2019 helped him relax.
“It was something definitely new, but I got used to it because the players are so friendly and they take the time to answer the questions,” said Jack. “Not doing any interviews before, to going in and asking professional players questions about their journey, it makes you a bit nervous but it’s a great experience.”
For fellow press attendees, hearing Jack ask his own detailed, thought-provoking questions fuelled by extensive league knowledge and a very-apparent passion for the game was impressive.
“Young Jack was a bright spark of all my post-game media conferences at the Island Games,” said Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. in an email statement.
In their first encounter, Wheeldon said Jack’s observation skills “showed a tactical acumen beyond his years.”
“After a few questions from media personnel [I knew], I get one from this young voice asking me about my reasoning for playing Elliot Simmons in a deep-lying playmaker role vs FC Edmonton. It took me aback, I’ll be honest.”
“The maturity beyond his years drew my best responses…his ability to catch my attention and extract depth in comment was outstanding. I am sincerely looking forward to our next encounter.”
Like most young fans, Jack’s goal is to become a professional player and his experience covering the CPL fires him towards his “dream job.”
“Being able to watch the Island Games and also having to formulate questions about them has helped him to see the game on a different level,” said Andrew.
“I learned so much from [the players] and I try and implement it into my game,” added Jack.
“I’d love to play for the Wanderers or any team because I love the CPL so much.”
“I think it would be really cool for me to be a ball boy for them, then talk about soccer and the CPL, and then go and play soccer for the CPL.”