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Interview #25- Matt Silva
Matt Silva is a Canadian professional soccer player currently signed to York9 FC of the Canadian Premier League (CPL), the first tier of Canadian soccer. Silva played college soccer at Le Moyne College, where he set a record for most clean sheets in school history. Silva then played for PDL side, Toronto Lynx. He signed his first professional contract with Kaya, a first tier team in the Philippines. Silva then enjoyed several years in Sweden, where he played for Bodens BK and Osterlens FC. In 2019, Silva signed with CPL side York9 FC. Silva is a true goalkeeper, a player any team would love to have.
The Matt Silva Interview
1. Growing up in Canada, what was your youth career like?
Growing up in Canada my youth career was one where I moved clubs quite a bit. I started in Brampton United SC and from there spent time with Dixie SC, Glen Shields, North Mississauga SC and finally the Toronto Lynx Academy. Each club taught me new things and introduced me to new coaches and teammates. I was able to soak up a lot of information, advice and experience from all of these clubs and am definitely thankful for each and every one of them.
2. How were you recruited by Le Moyne College?
While playing with the Toronto Lynx the main goal for the Academy was to help players secure US Scholarships. I was able to do so after playing a tournament in Buffalo, NY where the Head Coach of Le Moyne College, Tom Bonus, saw me play. After that I went on a visit to see the school and it ended up being a perfect fit for me.
3. What was your collegiate experience like?
Amazing. I highly suggest all players to go to University/College as it helps you to grow as a person and a player. You develop time management skills, critical thinking, discipline and mature over the 4 years you are there. As a freshman, there is no hiding. You immediately have to come in and play against players up to 4-5 years older than you, so you have no choice but to adapt and learn fast. Along with the professional atmosphere, the education I was able to receive from Le Moyne College was amazing and it has allowed me to pursue a professional football career fearlessly. I know that after all is said and done, and I decide to hang up my boots and gloves, that I have a degree that I can return to to make a living.
4. While in college, you also played for a few teams in the PDL. How was the level of play in the PDL and would you recommend it to others?
PDL with the Toronto Lynx was a good way to stay fit and sharp all summer in between college seasons. The level was always high and playing against teams with ex-pros & youth academies of MLS teams. It was great because you get to see where you compared skill wise. It forced you to always improve and be on top of your game. The trips were sometimes long but always fun and, again, added to the experiences which make me the player & person who I am today.
5. Greatest memory from your collegiate career?
I would say my greatest memory would have come at the beginning and end of my time there. Freshman year I was awarded with conference “NE-10 Freshman of the Year”. Then in my senior year, final home game of the year all of the seniors are walked onto the field with their parents and there is a small ceremony to appreciate and thank the players and families for their time and efforts towards the schools program. On that day, my team and I won the match and I became the All-Time Clean Sheet Leader in school history. It was quite special to achieve that especially with my family there
6. You signed your first professional contract with Kaya, of the UFL in the Philippines. How were you feeling after signing your first professional contract?
I was nervous, excited, stressed out and overwhelmingly happy all at the same time. It was a dream come true and it kick started this amazing adventure that I’m on. I’ve played professionally in 3 countries and been able to travel to several more through my football as well. I now have friends worldwide and have a greater understanding of cultures and lifestyles outside of my own. At first the choice to leave to the Philippines was a scary one, but looking back on it, it was the best choice I’ve ever made.
7. After your time in the Philippines, you moved to Sweden to play for Bodens BK. What was the level of play like in Sweden? How were you feeling after signing a contact for a Swedish club?
The level at Boden was surprisingly good for how remote of a place it is. There are under 20,000 people that live there and it’s just about a 2 hour drive from the arctic circle, so definitely cold, but also very beautiful. The community there has a great football culture and the club has been around for 100+ years so there was certainly a deep rooted love for the club. Back in the day, big name teams like Tottenham and Aston Villa would travel to Sweden and play against Boden BK for preseason matches so it was very cool to be part of a club with such history and prestige. I was of course happy to be in Europe, it’s the Mecca of Football, so even though I was quite far north it still progressed my career from Asia to Europe.
8. Describe your season at Bodens BK. What did playing at such a high level teach you?
My first season and Boden BK was a good one for sure. A little bit of an adjustment with the quality and style of play but overall it was a positive season. I was lucky enough to live with a few other English speaking foreigners from the UK and America and my coach was English as well. That was a huge aid transitioning into Sweden as there was no immediate language barrier in regards to football, which helped on the field massively. All tactics, training and most changeroom conversations were done in English to make sure that everyone was included and understood.
Playing at that level just taught me that I am able to compete and play higher! It’s all a matter of self confidence and having the desire to learn and get better. With those few things, anyone can play at almost any level.
9. After two years at Bodens BK, you moved to Österlens FF. How was the move from BBK to Österlens?
So the move to Osterlen FF was targeted to create more exposure for myself in the southern parts of Sweden. After 2 years at Boden Bk I had felt that I proved myself at the level and wanted to move up a division. The difficult part was convincing teams in the south of Sweden that the quality in the North is just the same, if not better at times.
After a few trials in the south I found myself at Österlen FF where I was treated very well as their first foreign signing and I loved every bit of the experience. The region I lived in was beautiful, my accommodations were perfect and everything football related was great for me. The most difficult thing going from the north to the south was the language dialect and slang. I had begun to learn a little bit of Swedish but when arriving at Österlen, it felt like I hadn’t learned a thing because of the different accents and colloquialisms. Overall, a great experience there at the club; the members of the club, community and city all hold a special place in my heart.
10. You recently signed with York9 Football Club of the Canadian Premier League. What were you thinking after signing for a tier one team in your home country?
It’s been an honour to be a part of the Canadian Premier League and York 9’s inaugural season. This is an important part of Canadian history and it’s something I’ll be a part of forever. It was great to be back home. Family and friends who had supported me over the years while overseas now had the opportunity to watch me play live and that was a special feeling. I was unsure about what the level of competition and professionalism would be, seeing as that it was the first year, but I was pleasantly surprised as everything exceeded my expectations.
11. How was your tenure with York9 been so far?
My time at York9 has been great. Great club, staff, facilities, teammates and fan base. Nothing but good things to say about the organization!
12. What’s your opinion on promotion/relegation for USA and Canada?
I think that the current system is one that North Americans are used to, and unfortunately I don’t think this will ever change. All of the other big sports are structured in a way where there isn't a promotion/relegation so it would be difficult for North Americans to accept the change. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of it has to do with money and business, but I strongly believe that if a team in a lower division is succeeding that they should have the reward of being promoted to a higher division. This is what creates better competition and ultimately better soccer for the league and country.
13. What are your goals for your post playing career?
Goals post career.... Honestly, I’m trying to continue playing for as long as possible! So I try not to think of post career too much. If I had to think of something, I would love to be able to give back to young goalkeepers who need mentorship and guidance. That would include coaching and life skills that would help them navigate the professional soccer world.
14. Who’s your biggest role model and why?
I don’t think I specifically have one role model that I look up to or try to emulate. I think that throughout the years it’s good to learn from everyone you encounter and try to replicate the good traits about that person. Whether it be in the soccer world or in everyday life, you can learn a lot from other people about how to be a good person and how to be successful.
Interview by Chris Dailey
Huge thanks to Matt for making the interview happen. Tremendous talent on the pitch, and a great person off of it! Good luck next season!
Image via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Silva
A huge sports fan who loves to learn about all sports, from every corner of the world!