Machala: “I just wanted to bring communities together, give people something that they like and give them the opportunity to have fun.“
When Jan Machala first arrived in Vancouver three years ago, he quickly recognized that few Canadians knew of a sport that was rapidly growing in other parts of the world.
Now, he is about to change that with the formation of the Canadian Minifootball Federation (CMF) which is set to launch its website on June 1st.
He said that part of what inspired him to grow minifootball in Canada was his experience with trying to play the sport with his friends in Vancouver.
“For some people, they didn’t know enough players to start an 11-a-side soccer game,” he said. “I couldn’t really find anything that would be affordable, not financially, but timewise because there were no games available in the evenings for people who work full time.”
“That is why I decided to go and start developing minifootball here.”
Born and raised in the Czech Republic, Machala grew up playing soccer before being introduced to minifootball by a friend back home.
He said that the pace of play is what drew him into the sport and made him become a fan.
“In minifootball, you’re in contact with the ball all the time because it’s a much smaller field,” he said. “It’s just a different experience and it gives you a different skill set.”
The process that led to the creation of the CMF began during the World Cup in Australia last October when Machala was connected with the World Minifootball Federation president, Filip Juda.
The two had many discussions that spanned over a month before he was given the green light to start the CMF, which formally launched in December 2019.
“After the long process, we’re at the point where we can actually launch something that we’ve been working towards for the last six months,” he said of the website for the CMF. “So it’s very satisfying that right now we actually have people around us who can give us their professional opinion and help us to launch it.”
Once the site goes live, Machala said that he and his team plan to build connections across the country. Based in Vancouver, the CMF has already spearheaded the start of minifootball organizations in British Columbia, with his eyes set on developing leagues in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.
He hopes that within five years, the CMF will have a stronger presence in many major Canadian cities.
“I saw such a big potential in the sport because I knew how it grew in Europe and is still growing actually,” he said on what motivates him to grow minifootball in Canada. “I just wanted to bring communities together and give people something that they like, as well as give them the opportunity to have fun.”
The CMF was well on its way to executing on its mission before the COVID-19 pandemic halted its efforts.
Machala said that the 2020 PAN AM Cup set in Las Vegas was to be one of the first major events to showcase the sport for Canadians, but it was postponed due to the pandemic. There was also a pilot league in Vancouver that ran for barely a month before being forced to suspend operations. Summer leagues that were supposed to be starting soon are currently on hold until it is safe to begin playing.
Despite the obstacles created by the pandemic, Machala said the CMF team has used this time to properly prepare marketing and the website.
“It gave us a lot of time to work on social media, to find people who actually know what they’re doing and who can help us get where we want to be,” he said.
To realize his vision for the CMF having a bigger presence in major Canadian cities, Machala knows it will take a lot more work. This is nothing new for him and his team, having already dedicated countless hours on a volunteer basis to help get the federation to where it is today.
He said that getting sponsors on board and educating the next generation of players are ways minifootball can grow in this country. He believes that Canadians are ready to embrace this sport if they have the opportunity to play.
Ultimately, his goal with the CMF is to make minifootball become a lifestyle that brings people together and creates a sense of community.
“This is my vision, this is something that I would like to achieve,” he said. “I want to be here for a long time and bring the Pan-AM Cup or even the World Cup to Canada so people can see how exciting minifootball can be.”
CMF Sports Journalist