Kadin Chung of Pacific FC grew up watching the Olympics.
“It wasn’t just soccer, but my family was keenly into swimming and track and field,” said the Pacific FC defender.
Chung never dreamed of being in consideration for the Canadian team to the Summer Games.
“Becoming an Olympian is not something you think is going to be in the grasp of reality for you,” said Chung, 22.
Chung is among three PFC players — including striker Terran Campbell and defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguère — and two former PFC players — Noah Verhoeven and David Norman Jr. – named to the provisional 50-player roster for the Canadian U-23 team to the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics. The qualifier begins March 19 in Guadalajara and Zapopan, Mexico. Canada will name it’s final 20-man roster closer to the tournament.
The PFC trio of Chung, Campbell and Meilleur-Giguère are among the 10 current Canadian Premier League players named to the provisional national U-23 roster. The others are Verhoeven, Diyaeddine Abzi and Chrisnovic N’sa of York United, David Choinière of Forge FC, Mo Farsi of Cavalry FC, and Easton Ongaro and Shamit Shome of FC Edmonton.
Chung is under no delusions about what it will take to crack the roster. Several players named to the U-23 long list have at least one senior national team cap while the likes of Liam Fraser and Derek Cornelius have multiple senior caps.
“It’s a really good group of guys,” said Chung, who has played for Canada once in U-23, eight times in U-20 and six times in U-17.
“It’s going to be really tough to make the team. Just to be in the conversation is special to me.”
The two-season PFC mainstay, signed for his third term with the Island-based club this year, has earned being in that conversation. The attacking defender was outstanding during the abbreviated 2020 CPL season played in a bubble in Prince Edward Island, especially with his offensive forays into the front two-thirds of the pitch.
“I was hoping to have a good season last year specifically to get an opportunity such as this,” said Chung, a native of Port Coquitlam.
“And it turned out that way.”
Burnaby-raised Campbell is looking to get back on track to approaching his 2019 breakout rookie season with PFC, in which he used his wide-body strength to score 11 goals, following a bit of a sophomore dip in the shortened 2020 campaign.
“I’ve had some ups and downs but I’ve put in a lot of hard work through it all,” said Campbell, who had five appearances for Canada in the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 championship.
“Anytime you get the chance to represent your country is an honour and I hope to do so again.”
Former MLS Montreal Impact prospect Meilleur-Giguère, a revelation on the PFC backline last summer in PEI, had 12 appearances for Canada in U-20.
Chung, Campbell and Meilleur-Giguère are back on the Island as PFC has been working out in small groups at the club’s indoor training field in Langford.
“We’re all hoping and praying for a return to some degree of normalcy this season,” said Chung.
The CPL has pegged the Victoria Day long weekend in May for the start of its 2021 season.
“We just have to trust in the process and be understanding if there are bumps along the way,” said Chung.
Canada, meanwhile, opens the qualifying tournament in Group B against El Salvador on March 19 before playing Haiti on March 22 and Honduras on March 25. Group A consists of the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic.
The top-two from each group advance to the semifinals on March 28. The semifinal winners will take the two CONCACAF berths into the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The two teams can then add three over-age players for the Olympic tournament.
Canada has not qualified for the Olympics since defender Ian Bridge of Victoria and captain Bruce Wilson, now the three decade-plus coach of the UVic Vikes, led the red and white into the quarter-finals of the 1984 Los Angeles Games before going down in penalty kicks to Brazil.