Calgary Foothills has trumpeted their PDL club as a “Path 2 Pro”, a place where local players can gain valuable experience on the pitch, while maintaining university eligibility, before moving into a professional environment. Earlier this week, Calgary Foothills CB Tyrin Hutchings announced he had signed with FC Gute of the 2 Division in Sweden, the fourth division in Sweden, thus becoming the first player from the 2016 PDL roster to transition to the pro game.
Hutchings grew up learning the game in the Calgary Foothills academy, where he was a part of the club’s Canadian U-18 national championship in 2009, alongside fellow Foothills players Charlie Trafford and Michael Cox. After spending time in the Whitecaps residency system, Hutchings started his career in the PDL, where he played 7 games for the Thunder Bay Chill in the 2011 season. He would later play with the University of Alberta in 2011 , and then played 4 years with Mount Royal University from 2013-2016, scoring 8 goals in 49 appearances in the CIS.
Hutchings would return to the PDL in the 2015 season with Calgary Foothills, and would play 22 games in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, scoring 1 goal, and would see the pitch in all 5 matches in the club’s run to the 2016 PDL Championship game against the Michigan Bucks.
I recently interviewed Tyrin after he announced his contract with FC Gute.
Just in case anyone from Gotland is reading this, how would you describe your game to those just hearing about you?
I like to think of myself as a leader, both verbally and through the way I play. I’m a CB that can play through the back or play more direct, strong in the air, and I have a great competitive streak.
Growing up in the Foothills academy, who did you enjoy playing with the most?
I would have to say I enjoyed playing with my long-time friend Charlie Trafford. He was always the life of the group and was a bit different than everyone else in that he was a leader and did things his own way. He was never afraid to express himself on the pitch, which is why I think he has gone on to have a successful career in the game. Traffy is a quality human being and a fantastic footballer.
Tell me about your time in the Whitecaps Residency program?
My time in the Whitecaps system was pivotal in my development. At that age of 17/18 I did not know what my future looked like. I would have loved to go pro, but back then, it seemed far stretched with the opportunities that were around me. Being in Vancouver gave me the realization and the drive to continue to press on because I wanted to continue to play the beautiful game as long as I could, at as high a level I could. In Vancouver I was introduced with the pro game and had a glimpse of what it takes and what it’s like to be a pro footballer.
You were often used as a striker this last year; do you enjoy scoring goals or preventing them more?
I think if you ask anyone that, they would prefer to score haha. However, I do love the demand put on a defender being that you get to shut down the goal scorers. It’s the best feeling when you get the better of a striker, cause all they need is one chance, and if you don’t give them that, you’ve given your team a chance.
Looking through the list of Canada West All-Stars I see a lot of familiar names on that list from Calgary Foothills. What Foothills teammate did you enjoying playing against the most in CIS?
Good segway from the above. I want to play against the best, and no one in Western Canada is better at scoring goals right now than Dom Russo. He’s a threat to any team, and will take any half chance he gets, so you have to be on your toes. I think we both enjoyed our battles against one another. He’s also a good friend and a great personality in the locker room.
Who was the most difficult forward to play against during your time in CIS?
Not to repeat myself (ha!), but Russo. He’s a tremendous athlete whose technical, powerful and can score goals at will if you let him. He was the top scoring player I think in CIS over the last 2 seasons, so what defender wouldn’t want that challenge?
How would you compare the play between the CIS and PDL levels?
I would say that the PDL is definitely a level up from CIS. CIS is a great level with great competition. In PDL, the difference is you see the best college players not only in CIS but NCAA and NAIA. These are also complimented with ex-pros and so on.
Tell me about your experience during the playoff run Calgary Foothills run to the PDL final last year. What was your favourite part of the experience?
What a run that was! It was an experience I will never forget. I loved our response from the 2015 season where internally I thought we were extremely disappointed to not make playoffs. There was a silent confidence about our team going into 2016. I think if you ask anyone else, we were underdogs. I think if you ask any lad on the team though, they would say we expected to be there. I loved the travel across North America, and just being able to compete at a higher level and grow the sport even more in my hometown.
So it was a dive that drew that penalty in the final, wasn’t it?
Haha, we are still on about this are we? I think that the referee saw what he saw. Whether I think it was or was not does not matter because I am not the referee. It was an unfortunate result.
Transitioning to your next venture, how did your trial with FC Gute come about?
It was through a friend of a friend really. I had made a highlight video of my time last year with Foothills FC and Mount Royal as well as a CV and just started sending it to some contacts I had or friends had. I was very fortunate to have some great people working on my side and got lucky. I got a message on the Tuesday morning around 6am, decided this was my opportunity and I couldn’t pass it up. Flew out to Europe the following day to start my trial on the Friday.
What do you anticipate will be the biggest change in moving to the professional game?
I think the details are the most important. Physically the players will be quicker, stronger and endure more. Tactically and technically I can already see the sharpness of football over here. You have to be technical and think quickly, always on your toes, always switched on.
Off the pitch, what are you looking forward to the most about moving to a new country?
Sweden is a fantastic country. The culture here is much like Canada, and the people here speak English as well as Swedish which makes it an easier transition. I am looking forward to learning how to speak the language, learning more about the Swedish culture, and here in Visby, the summer is a huge hot spot for tourists. Big name Swedish artists like Avicii come to the beach here and there is an annual government meeting at the beach as well where all the Swedish officials come down. Promises to be an exciting time!
Thanks Tyrin, and again best of luck in Sweden!
Thanks Sean! Appreciate the interview and the kind words!