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'Amazing to watch': Local soccer fans have 'high calibre' home team to cheer

'It’s a great league for them to play and to get seen. Hopefully for most of them, that will happen,' said a fan, who is also the mother of one of the players

Fans of the Simcoe County Rovers couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to cheer on their local team.

The SC Rovers FC Men’s Team — which took home the title of 2023 League1 Champions last season and are currently ranked 10th in the league — took to the pitch at J.C. Massie Field in Barrie Saturday afternoon against 12th-ranked Hamilton United Men.

Kelly Ayers has attended at least six games so far this season and says having a team that plays at this level has been a great addition to the city.

“I had season's tickets with my wife and kid and we came to a lot of the first games. We are five minutes away and it’s so nice to be able to watch this calibre of football and have it so accessible and so affordable,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to see how well the team has succeeded in its first couple of years. I missed the season they won the league, and I feel like I am a bit of bad luck for them. It was nice to hear that they’d won and it renewed my interest in them as well.”

Ayers said it’s the tactics and the strategy of the game that appeal to him.

“It has a complexity that other sports don’t have. There’s a lot of nuance in it that I really like,” he said, noting prior to the Rovers men’s team landing in the region in 2021, he followed Liverpool FC as well as FC St. Pauli from Germany.

Rosa Pattison is a huge fan of the team, having followed them since the beginning. 

“A lot of the fan culture that gets built around it is something you don’t see that much in other sports. I come to most of their home games and also most of their away games,” said Pattison. “I fell in love the first moment I showed up.”

Pattison believes it's good for the residents of Simcoe County to have athletes and a team of this calibre in their own backyard.

“Some people may be priced out of Colts games, plus to have something in the summer as well … and not having to leave (Barrie)."

Avery DaSilva and Alana White travelled from Bowmanville for Saturday’s game against Hamilton. The pair can typically be found in the stands cheering especially loud for No. 5 — Cameron DaSilva, who has been playing centre back with the Rovers for the past two years.

“It’s a great league for them to play and to get seen. Hopefully for most of them, that will happen,” said White.

DaSilva has been watching her big brother play for years, noting she is “so proud of him.”

“It’s so amazing to watch. It’s my favourite thing to do to come to these games and watch him showcase himself because he’s an amazing player."

DaSilva has been impressed with how the team has grown over the past couple of years. 

“Some of the changes are obvious. From the beginning year, you can see them growing as a team and beginning friendships outside of the team … and then you can start seeing them connect better (on the pitch). The structure starts growing. It’s nice to see the development of the team."

The men's team ultimately took home the win Saturday with two goals from Jevontae Layne and another one from C.J. Smith.

The Simcoe County Rovers FC Women’s Team, which is currently ranked sixth in the League1 Premier Division (W) 2024, went head-to-head Saturday night against the Blue Devils FC Women from Oakville.

They easily took the win with a final score of 3-0, thanks to an early goal by No. 38 Montelene Dymond. Midfielders Madelyn Robbins and Cloey Uddenberg helped clinch the win at home with a goal each in the second half of the game.