CA&C Cafe: Water In Babylon – One-on-one with Pacific’s Jamar Dixon

Editor’s Note: As part of showcasing the diversity of soccer talent from across Central America and the Caribbean involved in Canadian soccer, we are pleased to present the fifth edition of CA&C Cafe, a feature focused on how the rest of our confederation is shaping our game.

The Pacific meets the Caribbean Sea in Jamaica tonight, as Waterhouse FC look to skittle the Canadian West Islanders at Sabina Park (July 25, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. ET). Jamaica’s Concacaf League veterans – who will be delighted to play in the Pacific at a venue better known around the world for Test cricket than football since 1962 – are Jamaica’s regular season winners for three consecutive years . Before Pacific’s 3-0 win over CavalryCanadian Caribbean captain Jamar Dixon graciously spoke to the Northern Tribune to offer his thoughts on the “sticky wicket” ahead of us.

The following has been edited slightly for length and clarity.

NT: Pacific FC were in tough form, winning back-to-back wins over FC Edmonton and in spectacular fashion over York. Do you feel the club have completely reversed this crisis ahead of tomorrow’s game and the trip to Jamaica?

JD: Football is full of ups and downs, that’s why it’s called a season. It’s about the longevity of what you do. You will always encounter difficulties [during the season] whether it’s injuries or suspensions, you’ll be dealing with different things. I think we’re just going through a little slump; but it’s a time to check ourselves in, look in the mirror and get back to the basics of the game, like the hard work that [won us the League Championship] Last year. I don’t really see those losses or those ties as negative. It’s part of our growth and we had to go through it. That being said, we’ve now had back-to-back wins after drawing Calvary [3-3 on June 30th]. Although we scored a lot of goals in those games, we also conceded a lot. So there are definitely things to work on and positives that we can take from that, but the most important thing is that we have this series of games at the good timeespecially going to Jamaica.

We must have the right mentality [against Waterhouse FC]because it’s another world [in Jamaica]we need to tap into another mentality – this one is The good moment.

NT: Jamar, let’s talk about it – the “other world” that is Jamaican football and Concacaf football…

JD: Concacaf football is different, you know – you have different types of players and different dynamics. I mean, the Jamaican team, they have a lot of athleticism in this team – a lot of rhythm and strength, and that’s something you can’t really teach. If you’re a very fast player, it’s hard to defend against that – it’s just another part of the game, and a huge aspect of the game. You just have to go into the match how you want to approach it. . Obviously, we have studied them and we will continue to study them. We will do everything we can tactically to get our results so we can move forward. We must also consider the heat; Waterhouse is used to it and it’s what they live in, and it’s normal for them. So we have to acclimatize as quickly as possible – I think it’s the little things that we can control; some things we really can’t. It is above all preparation for all of us, from the staff to the players. We just need to be connected and prepared for what lies ahead.

NT: Forge FC have turned a lot of heads in this continental competition, right up to their match at the Estadio Azteca and now the pressure is on Pacific to do the same. How does the team handle this?

JD: As far as Forge FC is concerned, they did a fantastic job and they represented the league in the way [Canadians would] want the League to be represented. Now with Pacific we’ve won the League and that’s something people can’t take away from us – to win the North Star Shield to now the Canadian Premier League is huge for any club in get there. I told the team that you can never think about the pressure of what’s to come – tomorrow is not promised. For me, I explained that we have to take it one day at a time and that’s all we can really look at. There is no point in planning for the future, especially in this game where things move fast in football. My mentality towards the team is that we want to show off, you want to put the league of Canada on the map, you want the players on our team to look different – you want to accomplish these big things – while focusing on this what we need to do to achieve our individual and club goals. This is the most important for us.

NT: Obviously, a trip to Jamaica is a rather unusual mid-season start, even for Concacaf. Are you and the team looking forward to breaking away from the usual – or, for that matter, playing on what is usually a cricket ground (which certainly brings its own challenges)?

JD: I do not know if [our team] is even aware [the fact they will be playing on a cricket pitch], what it will look like or what it is about. I can explain a bit to them and I will. In terms of the break – I don’t think it’s a break at all – our league continues to go full steam ahead. If we qualify for the next round, it’s more matches. So it’s not really a break at all. Sure, it’s nice to go to Jamaica, but it’s not for leisure or vacation – it’s a business trip. It’s important for the team to understand what we’re trying to do here and achieve. I really think it’s going to be a lot, it’s going to be hard work, and it’s definitely not a break in our season!

NT historical note: Football pitches are called pitches because when football started, matches were usually played in England on existing community cricket grounds. Sabina Park’s terrain was once terribly hard, dry and fast – but has slowed down somewhat in recent years.

NT: In previous Northern Tribune interviews with coach Kah, he was quite adamant that many media favored Forge in coverage leading up to the final. It is now the turn of the Pacific to intervene on the continent. Has media accumulation occurred at a level you expected?

JD: No, I haven’t heard much from the media to be honest with you. I don’t know if it’s because we had a bad period of matches… I have no idea. I’ve seen a few posts, but I feel like we’re from the Pacific, and we’re going to have to attack this on our own. In terms of building [which Forge experienced], no, not as much. I mean, it’s fine – we just have to go out there and worry about ourselves, and mind our own business.

NT: How is it on Vancouver Island?

JD: On the island? Oh, that’s fantastic – the team is buzzing, the fans are very supportive, there’s a lot of media trying to cover things, and the preparation has been good. So I think we’ll see a lot of fans [at Starlight Stadium] for the rematch, and we’re really excited about it.

Pacific F.C. James Merriman

NT: Pacific FC seem to have handled Kah’s departure well – there was plenty of continuity and big signings to replace departing players like Lukas MacNaughton. How would you describe the transition? Were there any significant differences in their coaching styles or philosophies?

JD: The change was a personality change – when a coach like Kah leaves he wanted to bring a lot about himself – what they like off the pitch – he was always asking questions, just to get to know each player. Now, with the way we’ve played this year and the new players we have, I think it’s more of an adjustment period. Players who have entered now – more is expected of them. Our players from last year know how intense training and matches have been; how much it mattered. It is therefore a question of obtaining the [new players integrated early] and see how they handle the situation when the going gets tough…sometimes I just observe and comment, and sometimes I keep it to myself. The way coach James Merriman performed was good; new players coming in have to understand our culture and try to adapt to what we’re trying to do… it’s never easy for a coach who comes after the club has won everything – especially after a personality like Kah; definitely a unique individual… James has made small adjustments to allow us to improve and adapt which has been great; we just have to keep rolling with it.

NT: You brought regional Victoria its first national championship since 1966, but knockout cup competition is a different beast. What does it mean to you to represent your island on the intercontinental stage?

JD: It has been one of the greatest blessings of a playing career; personally, I set out to do certain things, and that’s one of the last things to check off. To have won the League and then qualified for this Concacaf tournament, that’s all. Now for the bigger picture, showing these kids, the ones I coach on Vancouver Island, that it’s possible for them to not only turn professional, but also qualify for the Champions League Concacaf in the future. It’s great for the Island, and they need it – there’s a lot of untapped potential here. I think it’s good for our fans, good for our community and great for the island, this opportunity. It’s not just the Pacific, you know, it’s a legitimate island that’s in this tournament – ​​we need everyone!

NT: Specifically on this you mention your coach – can you talk about Pacific FC’s reputation for connecting with the island community?

JD: It’s special is the only word I would say. How they deal with the Aboriginal community; the love that Pacific FC has for them – it’s just amazing to see. It’s so encouraging; we are continuously working on multiple projects with the indigenous community – the indigenous community supports our team, they are at our games and you have seen our new jersey. There’s also the Vancouver Island Wave program, which is the highest level of youth soccer on the island competing in the BC Soccer Premier League – there’s so much talent on both the men’s and women’s side. I coach the U14 Boys, and we just won the championship this year! It was fantastic to see where these boys started where they are now. That’s one thing I really enjoy being at this club – there are so many other things that develop around the community and this club in particular. This is what you want and how you build the game in the country – you need to demand a lot from your club and make it the focal point as you continue to develop.

Will Pacific FC, the triumphant symbol of Vancouver Island, and its ”One Club. An island. Did One Community’ survive its first continental test? Find out tonight!

Article Remarks:

Skittle (in the sport of cricket): (adverb) to dismiss (batsmen) quickly.

Sticky Wicket (in the sport of cricket): (noun) a difficult or tricky problem or situation.

Show: (verb) Attend or be visible.

Fire in Babylon: A 2010 British documentary film about the record-breaking West Indies cricket team in the 1970s and 1980s, and the profound cultural effect the team’s success had in the region.

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