FC Edmonton Member #1 Dave Cholewa on stage at the club’s launch
“Even reflecting on it now, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact feelings I felt on that launch date, but it is well documented that I shed a tear or three dozen that night.”
June 8th was an emotional evening for Dave Cholewa, and many others, as FC Edmonton officially launched into the Canadian Premier League, with Cholewa being named Member #1.
“That just kind of comes from the expression that the team is back, that sense of identity is back. It was a reflection of all the work that we put into something we believed in, and these new and strengthened friendships as a result of all of that hard work,” explains Cholewa.
An accountant by day, Cholewa’s love for football comes from his Polish-born parents, particularly his father.
“My Dad and I, we’re the kind of guys who have no public shame,” Cholewa says with a chuckle, recalling when he and his father would watch matches at the Edmonton Mini World Cup. “Whenever Poland played, we would be all decked out in full kit, we’d have red and white wigs, flags and scarves, and we would go and cheer, and that’s kind of where I got the bug as a child.”
Wisła Kraków is Cholewa’s Polish club, which he discovered through magazines at his local church as a youngster. As for his local team, Cholewa remembers the exact moment he was exposed to the club.
“June 8th, 2013, and FC Edmonton was playing a road game in Atlanta. My friend and I had gone to the Pint Off Whyte to celebrate my birthday, and in the back room, I saw [FC Edmonton supporters] shouting at a TV, waving their scarves, and I was super intrigued by this,” says Cholewa. “I was instantly hooked because it took two things that I loved very dearly – fan culture, along with domestic soccer.”
A university student at the time, Cholewa went to as many matches as he could, getting involved with the Edmonton Supporters Group & cheering from Section 107, prior to their move to the South end of Clarke Stadium.
“It’s no secret how many goals we scored into the net on the supporter’s side. There’s a visible energy there, and that’s what keeps me coming back, that energy that we create, and the influence we have on the game,” Cholewa says emphatically.
It was a tough time for all supporters when FC Edmonton decided to cease NASL operations in November of 2017. Having invested time, energy, and money into travel and tifos, Cholewa admits to “a loss of identity” for a week or two following the announcement. Not even watching European clubs on television could fill the void.
“Local soccer had ruined me, for better or for worse.”
The hard work put in by the supporters during the YEG4CPL movement made the launch that much sweeter. Cholewa knows the fans have a real sense of ownership of their club – something that cannot be replicated in other sports.
“You never get the chance to go for beers with the owner, or have a kick-around with the all-time leading scorer of the club. It’s such an intense immersion. I don’t think I could ever have that replaced by anything.”
While Cholewa may be FC Edmonton Member #1, he says it was simply a matter of being the quickest on the draw.
“I’m far from being the original, there are guys that are way more knowledgeable about the history, and arguably more passionate than I am, but it’s cool to have that sense of recognition.”
FC Edmonton is a proud member of the Canadian Premier League. Become a member today! Your $50 deposit ensures your spot in line for season tickets, and grants you access to member-exclusive events and information! Join today – https://login.canpl.ca/fcedmonton