Michelle and her daughter, Aditi, at an FC Edmonton match
“I’ve been really passionate about bringing professional football back to Edmonton, because I believe we need it.”
Michelle Peters-Jones was among the many supporters who refused to let football die here in Edmonton. She fell in love with the sport in her native India during the 1990 World Cup, and played goalkeeper for her school team.
It was also in India where Peters-Jones began rooting for Arsenal, after satellite television began broadcasting matches from around the world, including the Premier League. After moving to London in 2002, that love for her club became stronger.
“Just seeing people in England so passionate about football, it kind of grows on you, you can’t not be passionate about the sport,” Peter-Jones says.
It’s also in London where Michelle met her Canadian partner, who is originally from British Columbia. He took a job at the University of Alberta, so the family moved to Edmonton in 2010. Michelle continued to support Arsenal by joining groups of fans watching Premier League matches at local pubs.
When FC Edmonton joined the NASL in 2011, Peters-Jones was excited to see advertisements for the club on the LRT. It was also particularly handy that the Eddies played at Foote Field that season, as Peters-Jones was a student at the U of A.
“I started going to the games and I very quickly got addicted to the atmosphere again,” Peters-Jones explains. “At first, it was about taking my daughter and introducing her to the passion that was football.”
“The first few times we were just sitting in the stands, and then we realized there were actually people singing and chanting on the other side, so slowly we started drifting over to the supporters section, and it really felt like home.”
Peters-Jones can often be found drumming in the supporters section
As someone who experienced supporter culture in England, Peters-Jones found it easy to integrate herself into the supporters group here. Like FC Edmonton has been reborn in the Canadian Premier League, the River Valley Vanguard is a fresh start for the supporters.
“It’s such a thrill to be able to interact with people, and see the building of a new culture that’s going to be incredible in the future,” says Peters-Jones “We’re the roots of it, and that is super exciting, because it’s so great to be in on the ground floor.”
Peters-Jones sees some parallels in soccer between India and Canada. The sport isn’t the most popular in the mainstream media in either country – cricket is king in India, while ice hockey is the biggest sport here – but soccer continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
“As Canada becomes more and more multi-cultural, you get the sense that football will become more and more popular,” suggests Peters-Jones. “I don’t think people realize just how huge minor soccer is in this community because it’s so integrative and inclusive.”
“I think the more investment [The CPL] puts into integrating communities and bringing them together under the banner of football, I think it’s just going to take off.”
Want to attend FC Edmonton matches in the new CPL with family and friends, just like Michelle? 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