TORONTO – Milton deserves to be on the soccer map.
Close enough to Toronto to be part of the GTA, the Town of Milton is undergoing its second attempt to introduce professional soccer to what is billed as the fastest growing community in Canada.
Located just west of the big city, Milton has become part of a region where the number of young soccer players on a per capita basis is one of the highest in Canada.
So Jasmin Halkic and Jasmin Halkic are taking steps to bring more soccer skills and experience to Milton. Yes, there are two, a father and son soccer combination that’s entered a semi-pro team in the Canadian Soccer League’s Second Division and setting up an academy structure and agency to teach the skills and move young players to an overseas trial if they show enough promise.
“Milton is perfect,” said Halkic Sr., who resides in London, where for the past two years he has been a key member of London City of the CSL following the acquisition of the club from the Gauss family in 2012. “Milton is a wonderful growing community and soccer is really big there.”
Milltown FC was the first professional team to represent Milton when they launched with fanfare in the CSL on Feb. 24, 2010, but following a promising show on the field that delighted the community, the club failed to re-enter the pro CSL for the 2011 season and opted for a local amateur league.
“We are very aware of how competitive the CSL is, so we are taking a more careful, step-by-step approach by entering the CSL Second Division. This is the right environment for our development program, a challenge for our players for sure, but a level that’s ideal to help them become stronger and more skillful in the early stages,” said Halkic Sr.
Halkic Sr., arrived in Quebec from Bosnia in 1995 following a professional playing career which included Germany and Slovenia. A defender with good pace, he switched to playing on the wing, then became an outstanding attacking midfielder. But it all stopped abruptly when cut short by a career-ending injury.
The younger Halkic, a midfielder with the CSL’s London City in 2013, will be very much involved in the new Milton operation and defenders Slavko Nenadov and Bajro Junuzovic, together with midfielder Agata Jefferson, will be players in the new Second Division side – all with CSL experience. Stefan Ristic, who played for Dinamo Vranje in Serbia, is expected to join a team of young developing players – some with overseas experience.
CSL Administrator Pino Jazbec considers the CSL Second Division an ideal entry to professional soccer for teams where serious player development is a high priority.
“Most of our Second Division is reserve teams from our First Division clubs and Milton will find this first step a good starting point before moving into the top level next year or in 2016,” he said.
The six-month CSL season kicks off with two divisions in May with most regular season league games being played Friday through Sunday. Milton SC will play out of the Bishop Reding Secondary School ground in Milton.