“We feel like the guys have a very good foundation that has been established in the last few weeks and we’re ready for that next phase now.”

Valour FC is wheels up for Portugal this week for a 10-day training camp the club hopes will not only help in team building and preparation but ultimately set the tone for its 2024 Canadian Premier League season.

Valour leaves Wednesday for Melgaco, Portugal and the Centro De Estágios De Melgaco, a complete sports training facility used by teams all over the globe and located about 160 kilometres northeast of Porto and known for its hot springs and parks. The facility was also used by teams in preparation for Euro 2004.

The club will play a series of preseason matches against local teams while there and have the opportunity to train outside. Valour will then return in early April to complete final preparations for their season opener April 14th in Vancouver.

“It gives us a little bit of a retreat-type of vibe where we can just focus on preparing the team,” said Valour GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos. “We’re going to have games there against good competition and that’s the objective of it.

“It’s good to have an opportunity to be outside and compete against teams that are not from your own league as well.”

Valour spent part of last year’s training in Victoria to prepare for the season, but Dos Santos said part of the appeal here is the isolation. There’s that and then how the overseas training camp could potentially help boost the profile of the franchise.

“You can work 24-7 if you want,” he said. “It allows us to connect the guys in different ways. The biggest connection comes on the field and the interaction the guys have there. But it’s good to do it in other ways, too, and when you’re in an environment where you’re spending so much time together you can be creative and engage guys in different ways.

“It gives us the time to spend time on the road together, to meet with players individually and break down elements of their game that we see need to grow, but also areas we can maximize their skills more. We’ll use our time wisely.

“This is a first for the club,” he added. “It’s good for us, but it’s good for the brand to be exposed outside of Winnipeg and the CPL. Everything is important. We looked at all of that when we decided this was a good thing for us. It’s important players to a different culture and a different set up and that’s always good.”

The 10-11 days away from Winnipeg is also a precursor for the start of the ’24 season. Valour FC has traditionally opened its seasons past on the road due to weather concerns and will be playing seven straight league matches – plus a Canadian Championship contest – away from home as new turf is installed at IG Field/Princess Auto Stadium.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to get some good competition,” said fullback Jordan Haynes.  “A lot of times in Canada and in the CPL especially, games in the preseason don’t line up with the MLS. And especially with us in Winnipeg where we have to travel farther for a game.

“The best thing you can do is travel to a place and get multiple games. Phil knows Portugal well and he’s got us a good opportunity to get really good, high-quality games. I think it will be a really good preparation for the season.

“We’re all really excited.”