They make for an interesting pair, the two men who will wear the captains’ arm bands for Valour FC in 2020.
First, there is Winnipegger Dylan Carreiro, who grew up a few blocks from the Valour Road memorial that is the inspiration for the Canadian Premier League team’s name. And, second, there is Daryl Fordyce, the Northern Ireland-born pro who has spent much of his career in Canada and is now a permanent resident.
But while their stories and backgrounds may be different of this there is a consensus: both men are perfect choices for the club’s captains this season because leadership comes so naturally to them.
“It’s a very special honour for me, especially because this is my hometown,” said the 25-year-old Carreiro. “I’ve said it from Day 1, about always having to think about playing options outside of Winnipeg for so long. Now to have this opportunity to play in my hometown with friends and family in the stands is something that means more to me than maybe some others.
“And this… it just gives me that extra-special feeling to have this honour to represent this club. It’s really meaningful. I hope I can carry it well and we succeed and get some good results for the fans and the city.”
Those comments were essentially echoed by Fordyce, the 33-year-old long time pro who spent last season with Sligo Rovers of the Premier Division of the League of Ireland, but suited up for 110 games for FC Edmonton previously and is not only a former captain, but that franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
“It’s an honour to be named a captain of a fantastic group of people,” said Fordyce. “As me and Dylan said (to the team), it’s not about us, it’s about the whole group. Everybody is treated exactly the same across the board and that’s how we’ll do it: we’ll work together, stick together, push each other and be a team.”
The Valour captains were selected through a process that saw input from the coaching staff meshed with the opinions of the team’s leadership group, comprised of a handful of players.
“What is blatantly apparent, and I’ve learned this going through COVID, is leadership reveals itself,” said Valour GM and head coach Rob Gale. “There’s been good leadership and there’s been poor leadership all over the world. What has been revealed to us through this is our connection with the staff and players remains very, very strong and within that group some voices became apparent in their leadership.
“Daryl and Dylan really took ownership of the communication and other things behind the scenes. We’ve got a group of about five more around them that could have easily been captains.”
Carreiro, like Fordyce, has previous experience as a captain as well with the Canadian U20 squad coached by Gale and a Manitoba provincial team led by Valour FC assistant GM/coach Damian Rocke.
Valour’s two new captains spoke about leadership being represented through setting simple standards for the locker room, for acting professionally and by showing respect: to teammates, to the Valour brand, to fans and to the community.
“It’s not rocket science,” said Fordyce. “As long as there is mutual respect and trust, we’re working hard and together we’ll be OK. And whenever you have a team like that it’s very, very difficult to beat.
“But it’s also basic things like keeping the standard high and taking it upon yourself to be in early, to get the right training in, to do the proper warmups, to recover well, to picking up your garbage after training. That’s the culture, but it’s also just about being a good person.
“But it’s not about babysitting. I’ve already got kids. There’s some guys that when you come in at halftime might need a kick up the backside. And there’s some guys that need an arm around their shoulder. You look around the room and try and see who needs what. Everybody’s different… you wake up in the morning and you’re in a good mood where somebody else is in a bad mood. It’s just managing those things but, again, once we’re in the change room, we’re all one. We get on the same page, work hard, push each other and take care of each other.”
Carreiro said the team’s early chemistry could be tested in a condensed CPL season that is speculated to be played in a hub-city format. But a more experienced Valour side in 2020, coupled with a more mature team-first approach could be critical to success.
“That’s especially important given what we might be heading into with a tournament style season,” said Carreiro. “We’re going to need every single player and if you’re not playing the first game, you’re playing the second game or the third game.
“We need to make sure everybody’s focused, everybody’s prepared and everybody’s willing to work hard for this club. Ultimately, that’s what comes first.”