“This is a club that is aspiring for bigger things.”

If there was any lingering awkwardness, anxiety or anger about his current situation, Noah Verhoeven has managed to shelve it all and focus on the right here and now.

The 24-year-old Surrey, B.C. product – a veteran of over 100 Canadian Premier League games with Pacific FC, York United and Atlético Ottawa – has found a new home with Valour FC for the 2024 season.

And as temporary as his newest arrangement may seem after he was loaned by Atléti to Valour not long after signing a contract extension in Ottawa through the 2025 season, Verhoeven understands fully how loan agreements work and the importance of living in the moment to maximize his own opportunity.

“I knew there was interest from both clubs before it was announced,” began Verhoeven in a conversation with following training at WSF North. “It’s just the best thing for me. I want to come here and have a good year and so I’m focussed on this group and being here right now. We’ve got a lot of good guys coming in to change things around.

“(Loans) are maybe a bit new to this league, but it happens all over the world. It’s a good challenge, but also a chance for me to show myself to a different club and a different fan base and establish myself in a new situation.

“And to be honest, I was pretty open minded to this,” he added. “When they first reached out, I had great conversations with Phil (Dos Santos, Valour GM and head coach) and the staff here and right away after speaking with them I knew right away where my head was at. He helped make things easy and when it came up from both clubs it was a simple decision.”

Verhoeven’s addition is an important one for a Valour side that underwent significant roster reconstruction since the end of last season. A veteran who has been in the CPL since its’ inception in 2019, he brings experience to the middle of the park – especially after the departure of Diego Gutiérrez to Cavalry FC. He figures to have a heavy workload and be asked to help provide leadership to Valour’s made over squad.

“I think leadership happens naturally,” said Verhoeven, who has represented Canada five times at the U21 and U20 levels. “Everyone on the team has some leadership qualities. If you’re in football you know there are times when everyone has a rough day and it’s in those times where everyone else can help pick you up. It’s important that everyone has some leadership quality in the locker room.”

His first impressions since his arrival in Winnipeg have all been positive – from his new teammates to the staff and the facilities. He also senses a growing desire among the team to work to be a part of a Valour turnaround after last season’s disappointment and in the quest for the first playoff berth in franchise history.

“There are a lot of new guys coming in, but they’re experienced,” he said. “And having a preseason trip (to Portugal later this month) shows where the league and the club is at. A lot of the boys here have played with each other in the past in their careers. I’m lucky in that I’ve played with some of these guys and have relationships with them. It’s easy to get settled in when that happens. This group is already close.

“As for what’s happened here in the past… everybody has been realistic about that and has come in with the attitude of wanting much more. This is a club that is aspiring for bigger things.

“As for first impressions, look, things are run really well here. This staff really cares about the club, and you can see that every day. It starts with them and everyone up top and then it trickles down to the players. When you have a good base – and everything from the facilities are good – it trickles down to the players.

“Again, everybody’s realistic, but we come in with the responsibility of aspiring for more and pushing for more every day and taking care of things every day to try and get to where we need to be.”