It was barely over a year ago that a small event took place in downtown Toronto where the Canadian Soccer Association announced a new corporate partnership. The CSA has long been lacking for any strong partners so the relationship with Umbro Canada was a big deal for the national teams. Umbro was brought in as a partner through to 2014 and as part of the deal would provide the National teams with their kits.
The first kit that they launched for Canada, that chevron kit, is now nearing the end of its life. When our ladies take to the field on Sunday night that will be the last time that a Canadian team wears those shirts. On February 2nd it will once again be in an intimate setting in downtown Toronto that Umbro unveils a new kit for Canada. It is a moment that many Canadian fans will be looking forward to as the sales of Umbro's first kit have been better than even the company expected.
Now year one for Umbro was not without its issues but they have learned a lot from the feedback and rapidly became exactly the kind of partner that the CSA needed. The issues mainly revolved around the fact that it was often hard to track down Canada gear to buy as for most of the year the CSA's online store was sold out of most items due to high demand (there is stock right now though!). That issue was fairly easy to fix though as if you really wanted to buy something and got in touch with the fine folks at Umbro Canada they were willing to do everything they could to ensure you got what you were looking for. Personally, when I was looking for two red shirts for Christmas time I got the best costumer service of my life as Umbro tracked down the shirts for me and even shipped them to my home at no additional cost. I am sure that I am not the only one who received that kind of treatment either.
The other issue has been that there was a bit of a lack of variety in sizes. If you are a bit larger then it was a bit frustrating that they did not make the kit in your size but that is something that Umbro has said that they will be looking to address in the new kit so hopefully it is available in some larger sizes this time around.Now come this Thursday we will hopefully get a kit that will be unique to Canada. Not one that employs the exact same design that is used for some club teams. It would also be an added bonus if our women got their own kit or at least a version that is more tailored to suit them but for that we shall have to wait and see. No matter what is coming I am excited to see what Umbro has to offer in their second year on the job.
Enough about the kits though. It is important to highlight that Umbro has been a huge partner for Canada and has done more then their fair share to promote the national programs. They have done that by selling the merchandise at affordable prices so that more fans can get their hands on it, through promotional videos, through actually coming out and partying with the Voyageurs, hosting pre-game events, and running a whole lot of contests to give away Canada swag.
None of those things ever took place with Canada's previous shirt sponsors. For that effort Umbro has been a great choice by the CSA. Umbro could have designed a shirt and handed it over to the CSA and just tried to get some sales to make some money. They did not have to take this relationship so seriously but so far it seems that the time and effort they have invested in encouraging people to support the national teams has paid off. If you looked at the crowd last night at BC Place there were a whole lot of Umbro kits in the stands and that just goes to show that Umbro has done well to market their product and get it in the hands of the average fan. Even if it has been hard at times to find a kit there has been a clear demand for that and I think a large part of that is because Umbro had people excited to wear Canadian gear with pride.
Now there will probably be a fair bit of other news from the CSA this week including locations for World Cup Qualifiers, possibly a few more friendlies for the men's team, and hopefully a few for the women as well in their preparation for the Olympics. On the whole it should be an exciting event with lots of news for Canadian fans but I somehow expect that Umbro will once again steal the show.
Just in case you are not as excited for this kit as I am here is Umbro's teaser video to get you a bit more hyped up.