By Ali Boty
On any given Saturday, you can find the Ottawa swans giving everything they have at the Manotick Polo Grounds as they play in the Ontario Australian Football League. Six members of the local team got the opportunity to travel to Racine, WI to take part in the Parallel Cup, an annual clash between Team Canada and Team USA.
The Swans had the most representation of any other team within Team Canada with six players being selected, Geoff Coventry, Gregory Bridges, James Clock, Riley Turpin, Christopher Savov and Matthew Makin, and four of them partaking in exclusive interviews. The players share their emotions, aspirations, and the unique bond that comes from being part of a club that values and nurtures Canadian talent.
Geoff Coventry: Proud Return to National Duty
For Coventry, donning the Canadian jersey for the second time fills him with immense pride and a sense of responsibility, saying “Overall there is no better feeling than putting a Canada jersey on and playing for the maple leaf and the guys beside you.”
His experience in the Parallel Cup is a testament to his skill and dedication as a player. As a forward, Coventry brings creativity, speed, strong marking, and deadly goal-kicking ability to Team Canada, making him a formidable force on the field. He goes on to say “Ottawa prides itself in boasting the most Canadian talent throughout Canada on any Aussie Rules roster and the Ontario competition. Even though our team is mostly Canadians and I think it says a lot when it comes time for Northwind to make its selections since we at Swans are usually playing a high standard of footy for Canadians.”
Gregory Bridges: Journey of Passion and Leadership
Gregory Bridges’ footy journey started in Halifax, and since joining the Ottawa Swans, he has become an integral part of the team’s leadership group. Representing Canada in the Parallel Cup is a dream come true for him, saying it’s an incredible experience, and it’s a privilege. Bridges emphasizes the importance of building a strong culture within the Swans, with a focus on nurturing Canadian talent. As part of the national team, he aims to bring his leadership skills to the backline, enhancing the team’s structure, communication, and defense.
James Clock: Tireless Effort and Commitment
James Clock’s dedication to his craft and hard work during the pandemic have earned him a well-deserved spot in Team Canada for the second consecutive year. He says “It’s a great feeling to realize that the hard work, early mornings, and weekend sacrifices from friends and family had paid off for this part of the journey.”
As a versatile player, he brings a strong work ethic, adaptability, and a touch of flair to the squad. The Ottawa Swans have a proud history of focusing on developing local talent, and Clock believes that the club’s emphasis on homegrown players sets them apart in the Ontario league.
Riley Turpin: Humble with Ambitions
Riley Turpin’s selection to represent Canada at the Parallel Cup left him feeling both humbled and empowered. He understands the commitment and sacrifices made by him and his teammates to reach this level of competition. Being part of a club that values Canadian talent, Turpin sees the Swans as a platform that empowers players of all backgrounds to excel.
With confidence in his strengths and a desire to learn from the experienced players, he aims to add speed and grit to Team Canada. When asked about his previous performance, Turpin acknowledged the coaching staff’s hard work and praised them saying, “The biggest take away was off the field. We do a lot of prep in our gameplans and it was amazing to see how dedicated our coaching staff is. I have to give them a nod to how much they are involved in every player, every position, every contest.”
An Exciting Opportunity And A Breeding Ground for Canadian Talent
The Ottawa Swans stand as a shining example of how a strong club culture and emphasis on homegrown talent can lead to success. The Swans boast a history of dominating the Ontario league and proudly represent Canada on the national stage. Their success in promoting Canadian players to the highest level reflects the dedication of coaches, board members, volunteers, and players who have contributed to the club’s growth over the years.
The Parallel Cup gave the Swans an opportunity to showcase their skills against some of the best players outside of Australia. Having experienced the intensity of the tournament in the previous year, the players were driven to improve and execute the game plan more effectively. Their dedication to honing their craft and working cohesively as a team reflects the true spirit of Australian Football.
The excitement is palpable as Team Canada took on Team USA in the Parallel Cup. These talented players from the Ottawa Swans left it all on the field, representing not only their club but also the hopes and dreams of Canadian footy fans across the nation. With their passion, determination, and undeniable talent, they are ready to make their mark in this prestigious international event.