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ESP's Attardo set to shine as CPL's youngest player

Posted: March 26, 2019

ESP's Attardo set to shine as CPL's youngest player

 Tyler Attardo during Valour FC tryouts and below with his team jersey,
is the youngest player in the new Canadian Premier League.
Top photo courtesy Valour FC.
Timing is important in all sports, and for East St. Paul soccer player Tyler Attardo the timing of the arrival of Winnipeg's Valour FC soccer club and the Canadian Premier League (CPL) is pretty much perfect.
The 17-year-old is the youngest player signed with the club, and so far the youngest player in the league.  Tyler knows the CPL, a seven-team Canadian professional league that debuts this spring, came into play at the exact right time for him.
"Before I was always looking in Europe and all these other places to be able to have success and have my dream, obviously soccer, but now that there's a league in Canada and a team right in Winnipeg that gave me the opportunity, it's amazing," Tyler said.
He grew up in East St. Paul and started his soccer career with the local Timbits team at the age of four.
By age eight, he was playing age advanced with the nine-year-olds and has been playing up ever since.  His mom, Shauna, said at 13, coaches from Verona, Italy saw Tyler at a camp hosted by Winnipeg's FC Northwest.  At 14, he was invited to Italy and went for a two-week camp there.
At 15, Tyler was off to Italy for five months of soccer in the Italian city.
"He left in January and he got home in May.  That was really hard.  My husband (Rino) and I took him and leaving him was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," Shauna said.
"But at the same time, it was what he wanted and he was so comfortable, and I was comfortable with the facility and the people I had met.  Thank goodness for FaceTime and all those things."
Tyler would return to Italy the following year for more training, but through it all, he kept his grades up, spending the first part of the school year at River East Collegiate and the second half in Italy, training and doing correspondence courses and even learning some Italian.
"He's made a lot of sacrifices in school to take heavy loads in the first half, because he was away in Italy the last couple of years, so he's used to it," Rino said.
"With everything he's had going on he still did his Honour Roll last year in school."
Last fall, Tyler tried out for Valour FC, advancing through three rounds of cuts and playing in the final game before the team was selected.  In January, it was announced he was offered a multi-year contract with the team, and it was a good feeling.
"I felt great.  It definitely was a little nerve wracking at first, going through the process, but now that it's complete I'm so grateful and I'm super excited to get started," Tyler said.
In an article published on Valour FC's website, team coach Rob Gale praised Tyler for his performance throughout the tryouts.
"We were excited going into the Winnipeg trials to see how he would perform," Gale said.
"And to his credit, he was the standout player and confirmed the potential that he has."
The average player age in the CPL is 23.2 years, and Tyler says being the youngest in the league is motivation for him to prove that he belongs there.  It's a familiar feeling, having been the youngest guy on the pitch for most of his life.
"Right from East St. Paul, I don't know how old I was, I was really young ... and I started playing age advanced, and ever since, it's been like that my whole life," he said.
"I'm doing my best to prepare for (the league), I'm getting super excited."
And preparing he is.  Tyler and Rino spent about three weeks in February in Chile where Tyler practiced with the Rangers de Talca Professional Team.  The temperature was about 30 C everyday and while that might tempt others to slack a bit, Tyler admitted he loved the sunshine, but he was there to eat, breathe and sleep soccer.
"That's kind of how I think of it," he said during a phone interview from Chile.
"I'm here for soccer so I want to do everything I can to play my best here, but on the weekends, we go to the beach, do some nice things because you've gotta do some stuff while you're here too."
They got back home to East St. Paul at the end of February, and now, it's back to juggling school and soccer.  He might have a professional contract but he's still got to finish Grade 12.
"For him, he's in a bit of a unique situation because he has to juggle his final semester of school with working and playing in the league, but we have a great support system with River East," Shauna said.
Rino agreed.
"His teachers at River East Collegiate have been amazing, it's been phenomenal ... they've been really helpful when he's gone away for four, five months at a time."
Valour FC will have 15 home games, played at Investors Group Field, with the first being May 4 against the visiting FC Edmonton.  It's a date Tyler's ready for.
"I always want to improve and I always have goals to move forward, progress in the sport," he said.
"Right now I'm focusing on the league and I'm doing my best so I can prepare for the league and have success, not only for myself but for my team in the league and of course I'm always working hard to get a look from the National team."
The CPL season opener will be played in Hamilton on April 27.


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