The OneSoccer crew was joined on Wednesday by Atlético Ottawa CEO Fernando López for their latest episode of Player and Pundit Hangouts.
In speaking with OneSoccer hosts Oliver Platt, Adam Jenkins, and Kurt Larson, López spent half an hour discussing the CPL’s newest club, and how they’re handling the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“All I can tell you is that currently we are working together with the CPL and Canada Soccer and all the authorities in putting together a protocol and a plan to get back to training very soon,” López said. “Once we guarantee the safety of the players and the staff … we hope to get back to training in the coming weeks.”
The conversation then turned to how López helped construct the Atlético Ottawa roster, explaining that the club leaned on both the CPL’s soccer operations department and the Atlético de Madrid scouting network to find domestic and international players.
“When we started the recruitment of the roster, we were very clear of the profile of players we want to bring into the team,” López said.
He added, about the club’s first-ever signing, Ben Fisk: “It was proved that we weren’t wrong. Aside that he’s a great player on the pitch, he’s an amazing person.
“The fact that he was playing in Spain, he speaks Spanish; the first day he arrived in the preseason, he showed his character and his personality.”
López answered a few fun questions as well, putting some thought to the idea of Atlético Ottawa perhaps being able to pull a few bigger names to the CPL through their parent club.
“Yeah, why not?” he said. “I think that what we want to do for sure is to bring renowned players and quality players to Ottawa. That’s part of the project itself in what we wanted to build here.
“Maybe we can talk to (Diego Forlán) and bring him here as a consultant because he’s part of our family, López added. “Right now I think he’s busy, but why not him or any other players we can incorporate? Like (coach) Mista, he was a former Atlético Madrid player, why not incorporate him here with us?”
López also explained how important it is to have local businessman Jeff Hunt on board with Atlético Ottawa, in order to help the club strike a balance between its Atlético Madrid culture, and its connection to the local community.
“We want to win, we want to bring championships and titles to Ottawa and Gatineau, so the fans can feel proud of us and really feel they’re part of something cool and great,” López said.
“What we feel when you belong to the red and white family, it’s more than a soccer club. When gameday arrives it’s not like another day. It’s the only day in the week, we live for that moment. We want to bring that culture and that atmosphere here.”
Finally, López left Ottawa fans with a tease for their much-anticipated kit reveal: “Hopefully in the next week. We don’t know exactly the date yet, but we are preparing something really cool.”
To watch Wednesday’s OneSoccer Player & Pundit Hangout in full, click here.