Christian Oxner is a name that is well known in the Halifax soccer community. Lucky for Haligonians and HFX Wanderers FC fans alike that they be hearing the Halifax-born goalkeeper's name for a couple more years. The Wanderers announced earlier this month that Oxner is returning for the 2021 CPL season, as he has signed a deal for two years, with a club option for 2023. contributor Dylan Lawrence sat down with Oxner to talk about his future with his hometown club.

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Congratulations on the contract renewal. What played a role in committing for another couple of years? Christian Oxner: Well, the direction the team went in this year, and I spoke with a couple of guys who were signing similar deals, so I feel like we’re keeping a good core group of players together. We’re not going to be just participating in the league, we’re going to be able to go and compete weekly. What makes this 2020 team different? Oxner: Well, even the way we came together in such a quick time, I know it might have been different if it was a regular season but I think (The Island Games) setting, everyone was just together. We knew we only had each other for 43 days and we became a small family there in the bubble. So I think the way the league played out, we were about to come together in a quick time and it was a lot of fun. Could you talk a bit about the team camaraderie and why that’s important in building a successful club? Oxner: It’s so important because it’s something that easily translates onto the field. So I think when you’re together like that – you saw it in the tournament. When things weren’t going good, when we were down to 10 men, everybody kept fighting and we stuck together. I think those are the moments when everything comes into play and it shows because no matter what’s happening out there, we’re still working for each other. Cory Bent also mentioned that idea of togetherness and holding each other accountable. Did you have a teammate in particular you’d push in training sessions? Well, pretty much everyone, in all honesty. I talk a lot of smack. But training is a good place to do that, it creates a fun environment and also makes the day a bit more competitive. If I go up against people like Akeem [Garcia] or Cory [Bent] and, you know, they’re having one of those days that everybody has, if you start chirping them a little bit it’ll bring the level up and it also helps to keep your level up. That’s just what happens too when there are good vibes around and everyone’s good with each other – you have that extra leeway to chirp each other. During the season you had that on-field interaction to push each other, but how are you staying motivated in this off-season? It was a bit tough at the start but I’m back into the swing of things now. You remember how hard you worked the last off-season and you’ve seen the results, and [this year] we fell just short. It’s just one of those things where you want those feelings again, and you want to play in a final again. So if you want to win you know you have to put in more work than you did last year, which is going to be tough. Do you feel this team could make it to the finals again in 2021? Yeah, I think we’ll always have a shot from now on, based on the culture and what Stephen [Hart] has said. I think on paper every team has a shot too - the level of the league is rising every year so it’s one of those things where we’ll hopefully get hot at the right times and come together well again and continue to push each other and get results. Football aside, what else has kept you motivated in this off-season? Ah, not too much. I’m in the sports card game now, that’s something I’ve been doing and just chilling, playing some PlayStation. Since you’re the reigning eCPL champion, have you been training for that at all? I’m probably training for it without knowing it. But no, especially with the world the way it is right now, you have more free time so FIFA is just something I’d like to do to fill my time and I enjoy it. blackfriday-editorialad

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