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Eddie Edward A Legend On And Off The Pitch

By Ottawa Fury FC, 04/04/19, 2:00PM EDT

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After Eddie Edward traded in his soccer cleats for good last year, he thought: why not try something that he had always wanted to play but never had the chance?

This past Christmas, his wife bought him all new hockey gear so Edward was ready and excited to hit the ice.

“I think the cool thing for me about playing hockey is that I have a new challenge,” said the former Fury defender.  

New challenges are the name of the game for the 30-year-old Ottawa native, whose professional soccer career – which included time for FC Edmonton, FC Dallas and the Puerto Rico Islanders, in addition to Fury FC – came to a close during the off-season.

The transition, Edward admits, hasn’t been easy. In addition to bidding farewell to a nine-year career as a player, the Fury fan favourite has also recently taken on a new role on OSEG’s Group Sales. While his new office is a throw-in away from the soccer pitch at TD Place, his day-to-day has changed significantly.

Photo: Steve Kingsman | Freestyle Photography

His former train and play routine has been replaced by a nine-to-five gig where his job has him focused on getting fans to games, rather than competing in them.

“As a player, I never really understood the complexities of getting fans in the seats,” said the Ottawa native. “I thought it boiled down to: the team performs, the fans come.”

Now, Edward sees the work and effort that has to be put into reaching out to different pockets in the city and try to uproot fans and get them excited. In a market where professional soccer is still relatively young and with a growing fan base like that of Fury FC, Edward is facing the challenge with dedication and enthusiasm.

While the new office life is a different kind of grind – he jokes that with he and his wife both working busy jobs, the routine has become a bit of a “work, eat, sleep” situation – Edward is keeping active. He’s involved in OSEG’s staff hockey and in another weekly league and is noticeable at OSEG’s various events and staff gatherings.

All that said, Edward’s experience as a pro footballer gives him a unique perspective when it comes to his new job and his priorities haven’t changed, even if the specific role has: work and family.

Edward wasn’t handed anything after his retirement and had to compete against other applicants for the new gig. While he admits not having a background in business or sales, his late father did, as does his brother, so he has tried to learn what he can from them.

Photo: Steve Kingsman | Freestyle Photography

Though he makes a living with his new job, his passion continues to lie in giving back to the community. While playing soccer, that was always a top focus for Edward. Giving back, something that has never felt like a duty to him, is something he hopes to continue doing in this new role.

“If I had it my way, I would be a full-time volunteer, giving back to the community,” he said.

The Ottawa community, in particular, is very special to Edward. It is, after all, where he began his soccer days.

“I have immense pride to come from Ottawa,” said Edward. “I think it’s because when I was younger, people always gave Ottawa a bad reputation that it wasn’t cool or exciting, but Ottawa is beautiful. There’s so many things you can do.” 

Some people close to Edward are surprised that he doesn’t miss playing the game of soccer itself. But he does miss the interactions with fans and people in Ottawa. It’s all of the in-between stuff of being a professional athlete, like appearances in the community and talking to fans before and after the games, he misses most. Just hanging out in the room with his buddies is something else he misses, though he draws a comparison with how your teammates – whether in the office or on the pitch – can be an uplifting force.

“My whole day can get flipped upside down and then I’m happy and energetic and I’m lively. And that’s nothing that I did, it’s the people that I’m working with,” he said. “They have a bigger impact on me then I have on them a lot of the time, I would say.” 

Photo: Steve Kingsman | Freestyle Photography

Of course, the end of his playing career has not meant the end of his charitable and community efforts. Edward continues to volunteer with kids through Ausome Ottawa, an organization that helps kids on the autism spectrum get involved in sports. He is also involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and Leaders Canada.

He stresses that he is the same guy who loved hanging out on the pitch post-game, signing autographs and chatting with fans, just in a different position.

“Being a professional athlete doesn’t define me as a person,” said Edward. “It’s Eddie and then a professional soccer player came and then whatever’s down the road comes after that. I would hope that the fact that I’m not a professional soccer player anymore doesn’t change me as a person.”

As for deciding to walk away from the game he loves, Edward explains he felt he had reached a stage in his career where he was happy with his game and where he was. It took some of the sting away from saying goodbye.

Looking back on his Edward’s career, it’s not hard to see why he so quickly endeared himself to supporters in his hometown: after starting his pro career in 2010 with MLS side FC Dallas, he made the move to the NASL with the Puerto Rico Islanders, where he would go on to feature in 26 matches for the club. A move to FC Edmonton landed Edward back in Canada and he remained a popular player for the Eddies from 2013-2016 when he made the move home to Ottawa. In all, his career included nearly 200 games played.

Edward’s contributions to Fury FC and Canadian soccer will be honoured during the club’s home opener on Saturday, April 6 at TD Place.