FEATURED TEAM - TORONTO SUPRA
The Supra spirit is a winning one.
When Toronto Supra went a remarkable 16 league games without defeat from May 29 to September 27, 2003, a period to almost span the entire CPSL season, many fans were reminded of this new Toronto west-end team�s accomplishment two years earlier of being the finalist in both the CPSL Championship and the League Cup in their inaugural year.
Near the end of that incredible unbeaten streak, on September 24, 2003, Supra whitewashed Durham Flames 9-1, a result that if the team from Durham Region had any second thoughts about staying in the CPSL, the flame was surely extinguished that memorable Wednesday night, a game played at neutral Esther Shiner Stadium in North York.
But a good team has more than just one objective while doing battle�to win is not enough. It�s the spirit to have a winning attitude that counts in the long run, and in many ways, Toronto Supra have demonstrated how well qualified they are.
Such spirit begins off the field and was exhibited when the former Portuguese United amateurs decided in the 90s to move to the tough, fast-paced higher level of the pro game. That brought an immediate challenge to the organization and the players in particular.
THE SUPRA STYLE
It would have been easier, and certainly much less expensive to stay in the confines of senior amateur soccer, but that is not the Supra style.
Toronto Supra has a pronounced Portuguese flavour, although players are on the CPSL roster not because of their origin, but by their playing ability and, hopefully, because they have some of that fighting spirit to help the team succeed.
In 1988 one of the organization�s teams, Arsenal Dominho, was the first Portuguese team to win the Ontario Cup. Other achievements followed.
Toronto Supra ventured into the stiff competition of the pro Canadian National Soccer League and won the CNSL Trophy before being caught in the dwindling number of teams of a league that eventually came together with the Ontario Soccer Association, leading to the formation of the CPSL.
Just prior to that, in 1996 Toronto Supra had an excellent year including a 3-2 victory over Vejle Denmark on June 29. It was the only loss for the visitors.
In 1997, Toronto Supra held off being involved in changes taking place on the professional scene until the structure became clearer and as Portuguese United they attracted a lot of attention by winning two championships and the prestigious Consols Cup in the TSA Premier Division.
PRIDE IN CLUB STRUCTURE
Toronto Supra were involved in bringing Portuguese First Division sides Belenenses to Toronto and later Maritimo in 2001. Recently, Supra again demonstrated their competitive spirit in challenging former Portuguese First Division champions, Boavista, to a game played on May 30 at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke. It was a 6-2 win by the team from Porto, Portugal�s second largest city just up the coast from Lisbon, but the result was of little consequence. It was no small undertaking to bring the team here, an initiative headed by Supra owner Isac Cambas who brought the 2002 UEFA Cup finalist to Toronto from the United States where the team played one game in New Jersey.
But Cambas speaks with greater pride of the club structure�nine teams in age groups 7 to 16, and his �B� team, a reserve squad for the CPSL pros. �Our teams are very important to us�we want these young players to enjoy the game and, hopefully, some will grow and develop into very good players,� he explains.
Entering a team in the CPSL has given a number of players a stepping stone to greater things, an example being the very good Toronto Supra midfielder Fabio Silva going to the Portuguese Honorary Division in 2003. If they have the talent�Cambas will make sure they get the opportunity.
The pro team is the immediate concern of vice president and GM Victor Cameira, a former professional player including First Portuguese, Serbian White Eagles and Toronto Falcons of the National Soccer League, who knows the game and the soccer community well and whose job it is to make sure things run like clockwork. He works closely with the CPSL to work through a demanding league five-month long schedule, the Open Canada Cup competition and if all goes well, the playoffs.
Players like forwards Michael Diluca and Danny Amaral, a former professional in Spain, midfielder Pedro Dias and Jarek Radzinski, a defender unlike his brother who is a striker for Canada and Everton in the English Premier League, all provide the extra punch for which Toronto Supra is gaining a solid reputation.
It�s not surprising that Supra head coach, the highly regarded Jose Testas won the coach of the year award in 2003. His positive attitude is a winning one, but to get the right perspective on the club it�s best to reflect back a bit and speak also to others like former pro Machado who originates from Santo Tirso, which is real soccer country just outside of Porto and who played for Aves, Vianense, Tersense and other teams of some consequence in Portugal.
He summed up the CPSL�s Toronto Supra very well. Simply put: �This organization has a great future,� he said.