CALGARY — Anthony Novak joined Cavalry FC as a free agent on April 20, 2021. The forward will finally get to make his debut with his new team on June 27.
That’s when Cavalry FC will kick off its new season. They face York United in Winnipeg. In an interview with CTV News, Novak said he’s been lucky because he’s been able to play some games in the last year, when the pandemic caused mass cancellations.
“When I was with Forge we were playing in December (2020) and (then) I was in Portugal for a few months during the off season (signed contract with Condeixa),” Novak said.
“I’ve been one of the luck ones to say the least. I’m going crazy just having been back since April so I can only imagine what some of the other boys are feeling like right now.”
SIGNING WITH CAVALRY FC
Novak helped Forge FC win the Canadian Premier League championship in 2020, defeating the Halifax Wanderers in the league final.
But he couldn’t come to terms on a new deal so he jumped to Forge’s biggest rival in Calgary. Those two teams will face each other July 8.
Novak said even though he left on good terms with management and players it’s going to be interesting playing his former crew.
“I’ve got like a bunch of good friends there still so who knows what it will be like when you get out there,” the 27-year-old said.
“You know I think it provides a little extra motivation, so you want to do well and you want to score but maybe not get too crazy,” he said with a laugh.
PLAYING IN PORTUGAL
2021 has been an interesting year for the Pickering, Ontario native. He signed his first contract abroad when he went to Portugal to play for Condeixa in the Campeonato De Portugal third division.
Novak said it was a great learning experience.
“I think there’s a bit of a stigma when it comes to going abroad and wanting to play. Obviously as a Canadian you don’t have a lot of opportunities growing up if you don’t have that European passport.”
“So getting into Europe was something I wanted to do and to experience and it was tough not knowing the language, most of my teammates not speaking English. Many of my closer friends when I was there were members of the coaching staff because their English was a bit better,” he told CTV.
“Overall it was a really good. I got to go play a few different positions and ultimately I think it put me in the right place for when I was coming back to Canada.”
“The season ended there at the end of May and that was the maximum amount of time that I was going to be involved so I knew I would probably be coming back to play some football here in North America as well.”
ATMOSPHERE AT SPRUCE MEADOWS
To start the season, the CPL will play all of its games in one location. Winnipeg was the chosen site. Novak says he’s okay with that because he just wants to get on the pitch and play.
He can hardly wait to play his first game at Spruce Meadows. He says he loves the atmosphere there.
“It’s one of the standout stadiums in the league for me in general. You’ve got the grass pitch which is always good on the body and good to play on. You know it’s a bit more true to what you feel like when you’re playing football, but then the second thing is the biggest one, you’ve got that atmosphere,” Novak said.
“I remember we played on a cold October night there before, it was -12 and I actually scored when I was playing for the other guys. You know playing with a bit of a heart on my sleeve at the time I gave the fans the shhhh (sign) and the place was going crazy, they were giving me so much and it was such a fun experience.”
“Even when you’re playing against opposition fans you want to be playing against fans and you want to hear it and you want it to be rocking because that’s what football is all about you know I don’t have a job if they’re not there.”
HOPES TO PLAY AT HOME SOON
Novak and the rest of his teammates are still awaiting word on when they’ll be able to play their home opener this season. He says he hopes it won’t be too long.
“When it comes back to being able to play in Spruce you know I’m absolutely excited for that. I only wish that we could do it sooner. That’s the only thing I wish you know.”