Wesley Cain, although he has worked on a backup plan through his Communication Studies degree, is focused on creating a professional career in soccer. He explains that he went into the NCAA route because while he loves “soccer so much, it’s what I want to do the rest of my life; even if I play professional soccer it’s got to end”. Yet his focus remains breaking through the difficult barrier into the professional ranks. Although Cain explains that “it’s pretty hard to be Canadian” when trying to make it to Europe; he even tried to “get that Jamaican passport to help”, the young player is undeterred and working hard at improving his game and supporting KW United in their 2017 season.
Cain’s father moved to Canada from Jamaica when he was 19, so Cain was born and raised here. Soccer runs in Wesley Cain’s blood; his father “played collegiate and for some men’s league teams around Canada”, and Cain’s brother “started playing at a young age. I just wanted to be like my brother so I started playing with him; my brother is just four years older than me and he played house league. Once he played house
league I just wanted to play with him all the time”.
Cain’s love of soccer continued to grow, soon leading him to Vancouver: “Vancouver has a great residency program. At the time it was under 20s, and I was 16. Adam [Polakiewicz] and one of my friends Bryce [Alderson] were talking about moving there for a while, and they moved. I was still around playing for a CSL club, Portugal FC, and after that ended it was choosing either Toronto FC or Vancouver. I saw the program at Vancouver and I felt it fit my playing style more, so I went there on trial and they liked me and asked me to come”. When I asked Cain if he was nervous about moving away from his family to go to Vancouver for soccer, his answer was pure enthusiasm; “it was exciting, I couldn’t wait! It was just great, they had a great program”.
After his time at Vancouver, Cain had to choose between rolling the dice and trying for a professional contract right out of the gate, or making his way into the NCAA system. “A couple schools contacted me and in my mindset I was like I’m going to sign pro, it’s what I wanted to do really badly. But it didn’t end up being that way and it was fine, because it was just deciding what school to go to”. Cain eventually chose Wright State, partly because they were willing to work with him in getting his grades up after a less-than stellar performance in high school due to his focus on soccer. “Wright state really helped me because a lot of schools were telling me to go to a Canadian school and get my grades up and then go to their school, but you can’t get a full scholarship in Canada and my family didn’t have that much money”.
Cain has just completed his last year at Wright State, and is now looking to find his big break. He has had “some talks with some coaches who were trying to help me out”, but it has been “really hard to get my foot into Europe”. Yet, he continues to work hard and is determined to help KW United this year. “I just want to play to the best of my abilities”, he tells me. “I feel like last year I was getting there but then I was injured about halfway through the season and I was out for the rest of the season. I felt like I underachieved because I didn’t perform and get to play as much as I wanted to play. This year I want to do better, be a better player, and I feel like this is the perfect area to do it, to perform the best I can and you have coach Martin who knows what he’s doing on the field. He knows how to coach each individual player. This is his second year, and he knows what KW is all about”.
At Wright State, Cain learned the roll of rightback. “It was a bit different; safer passes, not as much 1v1 but a lot of overlapping”. This is not his natural position, however. Cain sees himself as an adaptable player, able to play in multiple positions. But he prefers playing on the wing; “my role for that is just taking players 1v1, getting a good cross in, scoring goals, and being a constant threat”. He aspires to be “consistent on the ball and keep the ball moving” to create scoring chances for his team. It is this attacking roll that Coach Martin Painter will be hoping to see on the pitch during the summer season, wrecking havoc in the PDL. This shouldn’t be a problem for Cain, who thrills over the experience of a successful attack: “I love the feeling of dribbling past players, it’s one of the best feelings in the world, it’s just amazing”.
Cain, although only spending the short PDL season suiting up for the black and blues, has developed a real affinity for the team. “It reels you in”, he tells me; “it’s a big family. Gill, Barry, they make you feel like the whole thing is a family”. He explains how the level of professionalism exemplified by the coaching staff and team goes a long way in helping him to develop his game. “You look at other PDL teams; they put in effort, but this is just top notch. The care [KW staff] put into it. Great culture and their attitudes help us on the field because we’re all together and our chemistry comes out on the field. That’s how
winning cultures are made”. Cain was playing for the team when they won the PDL championship in 2015, and he feels that the team should have followed that up with a stronger season in 2016. “The team was really strong”, he explains; “we underachieved last year I feel, because of injuries. Sergio [Camargo] was injured the majority of the year, Sven [Koenig] got injured midseason and was our top goal scorer, Ken [Krolicki] was injured as well, I got injured. It was a rough spell, and I feel like that’s what hurt us. But I feel like this year once again, every year we can go far and this year again”. The injuries that plagued the team last year were referenced by other members of KW as well; it was a difficult year, and everyone involved in the team is hoping to push those memories away and replace them with a strong showing this year.
One of Cain’s motivations in his soccer career is working with the national team. While he has looked into getting a Jamaican passport to make opportunities more available for him in Europe, he is certain about the nation that he wants to represent in international play. In fact, Cain represented Canada in Jamaica during the 2011 CONCACAF Under-17 championship, participating in the squad that helped Canada to qualify for the U17 World Cup in Mexico. “It was an amazing experience”, Cain energetically exclaims; “it felt like it happened so fast. I was with the provincial team and one day there was a call-up for some players”. After the call-up, Cain’s life became busy with travel and soccer: “throughout the whole year we traveled to many countries, playing a lot of other teams. When it got to CONCACAF it was crazy; it was in Jamaica so I had some family there”. Cain hopes to return to the national team eventually, explaining that it is “another dream; it would be amazing to represent this country. And at the men’s level, the highest”.
Cain’s enthusiasm for the international team has fed into his awareness of the burgeoning Canadian Premier League. He compares Canadian development to the American system and explains how “their league helps their men’s team skyrocket”. The league is “a great opportunity, even for players like me it’s a great opportunity”, since it gives Canadian players a fighting chance. “MLS making the step for homegrown players is really helpful, but some players are late peakers, they get better at 19 after they go to College and start performing really well”, yet these college players “can’t be considered homegrown so they’re international”. Unfortunately, because of the domestic rule, if there are “two players that are both just as good; one is American and the other Canadian, most likely they are going to choose the American because they don’t want to use the international spot”.
Cain’s life is focused on achieving a professional contract. He tells me that if the canPL were to start this season, he would “be really into approaching some of the teams, I’d be approaching teams now”. He can’t “wait until it’s fully set, and all the teams are announced and they start kicking off”. At the same time, Cain’s hope is that the CPL is established in “the right way”. He explains “that’s one of the reasons I like KW, because they do everything and more in the right way. They will go through so much for the team because they love this team”.
Wesley Cain is yet another story that makes it clear how much this country needs a league to call our own. Every Canadian has dreams and goals, only some will ever achieve them. But it is important that we as a nation work hard to make dreams as attainable as possible. Cain tells me that it is “my dream to play professional soccer. The grind, I just can’t get enough of it. I keep wanting to get there and get there; it’s a hunger”. Hopefully KW United will provide Wesley Cain with the springboard that he needs to launch himself into the professional ranks of the soccer world; hopefully a step like that will become much simpler for future generations.