“I don’t think it’s any secret – we all have something to prove on this team.”

There are comeback stories and tales of redemption. There are those driven by the proverbial chip on their shoulder, others working back from injury and wide-eyed rookies simply looking to make a good first impression.

And guaran-dang-teed in every Canadian Premier League spring training camp – including right here with Valour FC – there are players who slot into at least one of those descriptions.

All of this brings us to Frankie Facchineri, Valour’s second pick, 9th overall, in the most recent CPL U-Sports Draft. The 21-year-old centre back, a product of the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy who played in five matches for Atlético Ottawa while on loan during the 2020 Island Games, has seemingly treated each training session with the wide-eyed wonderment of a five-year old running down the stairs on Christmas morning.

“We’re coming up on a month now of training and every day has been great,” began Facchineri in a chat with valourfootball. club on Tuesday. “I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity from Coach Phil (Dos Santos) and the rest of the guys. Everybody’s been really helpful.

“I’m loving the learning experience. I’m loving being here. It’s been awesome to be in an environment where guys come to work every day. You just saw us do all this running after training… guys relish that hard work.

“I’m just so grateful,” he added. “I’ve been dying to get back into the pro-environment for a long time. Sometimes you don’t recognize the situation you were in until you’re no longer in it. So, my feelings and emotions are nothing but excitement and the enjoyment of it all – but that’s how I always am whenever I’m near a soccer field.”

Born into a soccer family in Windsor – his dad played for the University of Windsor Lancers – Facchineri was on Canada Soccer’s radar at an early age and was captain of the Canadian U-17 Team at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship team that qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

After the Whitecaps loaned him to Atlético and then the San Diego Loyal of USL Championship, Facchineri played in League1 Ontario with Tecumseh SC and then Windsor FC – being named the league’s Defender of the Year last season.

All of that led to his being identified and drafted by Valour and to him landing on the doorstep of his newest opportunity.

“My goals coming in – and it’s been a couple years since I’ve been in an environment like this – were to learn from the guys that are here that have already had really good careers,” he said. “I want to come into this and help the team in any way possible. I want to learn as much as I can in the first little bit and throughout the entire year.

“It’s about soaking up information and everything about this experience. Then it’s about making the most out of my opportunities when they hopefully come and do the best I can.”

Facchineri is just one part of Valour’s reworked roster heading into 2024 after last season’s disappointment. And as the team turns the page, this collection of old and new faces wants to be a group that writes a new history for a franchise still seeking its first playoff berth.

“I don’t think it’s any secret – we all have something to prove on this team,” Facchineri said. “I don’t think that was lost on any of the coaches when they were creating the team. And when you have a team of really hungry individuals something really special can happen. We have the guys here to do that.

“That’s been one of the messages that’s been repeated all through preseason: togetherness. We’ve got guys doing everything they can off the field to keep people together and just listening to a lot of the older guys, they say the CPL is decided by one or two goals and it’s in those little moments where you have that togetherness and desire to work together that could be huge for us this year.

“That’s the culture everyone is trying to create here.”