Stewie the Starfish made a grand entrance as the Pacific FC mascot, when he was led into the area by drums and cheers, before hi-fiving people in the crowd. (Keri Coles/News staff)                                Stewie the Starfish will be rooting on the Pacific FC at the first game of the inaugural Canadian Premier League season on Sunday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Stewie the Starfish made a grand entrance as the Pacific FC mascot, when he was led into the area by drums and cheers, before hi-fiving people in the crowd. (Keri Coles/News staff) Stewie the Starfish will be rooting on the Pacific FC at the first game of the inaugural Canadian Premier League season on Sunday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Prepare for purple: First ever Pacific FC game starts at 4 p.m.

Fans, players preparing for Vancouver Island league inaugural game

Langford-based Canadian Premier League club, Pacific FC, is having its inaugural game Sunday at 4 p.m. against the HFX Wanderers at Westhills Stadium in Langford, and fans are anticipating a day full of non-stop excitement.

Tickets for the game sold out on Thursday afternoon with some standing room tickets left.

The game is a memorable one for Vancouver Island, with a brand new league, a brand new team and an expanded stadium.

There is a predicted rivalry between the two coastal teams, many Pacific FC team members have played under Halifax Head Coach Stephen Hart through their National Team training and are familiar with his keen coaching abilities. In current Canadian professional sports coast-to-coast match ups are non-existent. In fact, it’s the third furthest distance in professional soccer for two teams to play each other in the world.

“Our team has been working hard to be prepared for this very special season opener. I feel we have come a long way since the start and I can’t wait to see the boys out there competing,” said Michael Silberbauer, Head Coach, Pacific FC. “It is an exciting time for our club and for soccer in Canada in general.”

Brad Norris-Jones, the team’s executive vice president of operations, says Sunday will be one of the most exciting days for Langford and all of Greater Victoria.

Gates will open at 1 p.m. for the inaugural game, three hours before kickoff. Performances from Stages Performing Arts & the Military Dixie Land Band will liven up the fans ahead of the match and help carry out celebrations.

After the match, Towers & Trees and Deep Sea Gypsies are leading a post-game concert and an 18-minute firework show will be capping off the festivities. “So it is a full day of activities,” Norris-Jones said. “I’m not sure if the public really understands what we put into this, but it’s taken us to near-two months of getting everything in line, from the small details.”

“It’s something the community can be really proud of,” he added. Preparation for the festivities have been underway since Feb. 1.

ALSO READ: VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

The CPL was founded in 2017 as a way to capitalize on the excitement for soccer in North America coming on the heels of growing viewership in professional soccer over recent years. This April marks the new national professional men’s soccer league’s official opening. Seven clubs from five provinces will play for the CPL championship as well as against premier Canadian clubs from other leagues in the Canadian Championship.

Expansions to the Westhills Stadium, which is getting ready to seat 5,000 fans on opening day, with room for an additional 1,000 upon completion of the stands, makes Langford an obvious choice for Pacific FC to call home, Norris-Jones said.

The players themselves are getting settled, said Pacific striker Marcus Haber. “I think we’re looking sharp…everyone’s counting down the days,” he said, adding that the mood in the locker room is “quite high.”

“You’re going to see on opening day that everyone’s gonna be ready to go.”

The team roster includes:

Forwards: Marcus Haber, Terran Campbell, Issey Nakajima-Farran

Midfield: Ben Fisk, Victor Blasco, José Hernandez, Noah Verhoeven, Alessandro Hojabrpour

Defenders: Hendrik Starostzik, Lukas MacNaughton, Matthew Baldisimo, Kadin Chung, Blake Smith, Ryan McCurdy, Émile Legault

Goalkeepers: Mark Village, Nolan Wirth

ALSO READ: Pacific FC launches its inaugural regular season schedule