The Island Games were a lot of things, but boring wasn’t one of them. Over the course of this summer’s six-week competition, all eight CPL clubs furiously fought it out in PEI in an attempt to hoist the North Star Shield. The unique format of the competition produced plenty of entertaining and fast-paced football, as teams couldn’t afford to slowly gain momentum. Instead, they had to storm out of the game and overcome the small margin of error that is central to tournament football. As such, there were countless special moments that happened both on and off the pitch in Charlottetown, some far more memorable than others. But what was the one moment from the CPL’s historic 2020 season hat stood out the most? CanPL.ca’s Marty Thompson, Charlie O’Connor-Clarke and John Molinaro debated the issue and offered their picks below.
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Cavalry wins for Oliver MinatelWhile the Black Lives Matter protest (more on that later) would be my first choice, can I nominate another incredible showing of humanity that took place in PEI? An already-wounded Cavalry FC entered their final first stage match with York9 FC needing all three points. It was already set to be a nervy affair, but not for the reason mentioned here, as Cavs attacker Oliver Minatel went down injured in a horrific sequence played out early in the first half. It was an emotional moment, as Minatel was carted straight to hospital in Charlottetown where he underwent surgery almost immediately. A fractured tibia and fibula in his right leg was the diagnosis, though Cavalry players didn’t know that yet. Play continued, with emotions running high. It was fitting that Marcus Haber, who entered as a substitute to replace Minatel, scores the deciding goal for Cavalry an hour later. He marked the occasion by running over to Cavalry FC’s touchline and kissing Mintael’s kit. It was a win dedicated to a fallen teammate. There was nothing more touching than that in PEI. -- By Marty Thompson
FC Edmonton comes back for Chris KooyThe Island Games were full of incredible moments. Like Marty, I’d probably also put the CPLers’ Black Lives Matter demonstration at the top of my list. Still, I do want to remember this heart-wrenching episode from the middle of the first round. When FC Edmonton’s players and staff found out that Chris Kooy, the club’s first-ever captain, had been hospitalized with Stage IV colon cancer, they made sure to keep him in their thoughts from PEI. Midfielder Antony Caceres gave up his shirt number — Kooy’s no. 20 — to honour him, and the squad kept a jersey printed for Kooy on the bench. Then-Eddies coach Jeff Paulus left his coach’s chair vacant during matches as well. Shortly before kicking off against Atlético Ottawa on August 23, the club learned that Kooy had passed away. Although the match didn’t quite start the way they would’ve hoped (Ottawa went up 2-0 within 20 minutes), the Eddies went on to embody Kooy’s fighting spirit in the second half, scoring a pair of late goals to earn their only point of The Island Games. After the game, a very emotional Paulus glowed with pride for his players, telling reporters that their resilient comeback had been a fitting tribute to the late captain. "The second half, especially those young Edmonton-raised players, they honoured him," Paulus said. -- By Charlie O'Connor-Clarke
CPL players from all 8 teams show support of social justice issues
For me, the best moment of The Island Games didn’t involve a highlight reel goal, an incredible save or a crazy player celebration. On Aug. 27, Atlético Ottawa and Cavalry FC were joined by players from the other six CPL teams for a moment of solidarity before their Island Games match kicked off. The players from the other six teams stood locked hand-in-hand on the far touchline, and all CPL players wore Black Lives Matter shirts and took a knee during the playing of the Canadian national anthem. That was followed by a moment of silence from every CPL player. A second moment of silence came at the 8:46 mark of the game when play officially stopped to honour George Floyd, the Minnesota man who was killed in June when a police officer held his neck to the ground for eight minutes and 46 seconds. The pre-game demonstration was organized by the CPL players, who posted messages of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as Canadian indigenous, LBGTQ, and Islamic communities. York9 FC’s Kyle Porter told OneSoccer: "We are here to take a stand. Players have come together and we are united. We are one, and we want to make a statement – not only to this league but to the world – that we’re fighting for equality." -- By John Molinaro