Pacific FC’s new leadership team and captain were announced today, marking another big milestone as the 2023 Canadian Premier League season approaches.
Taking over from recently retired captain Jamar Dixon is Vancouver Island’s own Josh Heard, and completing the leadership team with him are Manny Aparicio, Amer Didic, and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère.
Heard’s journey to this point is a testament to hard work, passion for the game, and yes, inherent talent.
What being a captain means
“It’s a huge honour,” says Heard. “This is my home, this is my club, and every time I’m out there I wear the badge with serious pride so the fact that I’m now going to be captain and lead this team from the front is something I’m very proud of.”
Heard, a product of the local soccer system through Lakehill Soccer Association, Victoria Metro, and Victoria Highlanders, says he’s learned a lot over the past couple years about what being a captain means and what the day-to-day responsibilities look like.
“It’s about being a positive presence. Jamar’s a good friend of mine and we still talk every day because he’s right there in the office, so if I have any questions he’s always ready to help. Having him as support and learning from how he led the team the last few seasons is huge for me and how I want to lead going forward. He’s definitely a great mentor and will be a big resource going forward.”
As for Dixon, he has no qualms about how Heard will fare as PFC’s new captain, and knows better than most what the honour means.
“In my opinion, what makes a great captain is someone who is easy to speak to and to approach,” says Dixon, formerly PFC’s on-field captain and now the club’s Manager of Football and Player Development. “Because there are so many different levels in the season where you have to deal with different situations and circumstances, and you just have to know how to carry your message. Another big one is your day-to-day work – who you are and what your character is – and Josh is a guy that comes to training and what you see there is what you see in the game. He doesn’t vary from that, there’s no difference in his training ability to his game ability. He holds himself to a high standard.”
“You’re the gel”
Being named captain of any club is no small feat, but to have it be for your hometown club brings another level of __ entirely. For Heard, in his younger playing days he didn’t necessarily envisage himself as a club captain later in his career, but is immensely proud to do so as a representative of his club and his community.
“I think (the idea of being a captain) was something I came to a little bit later, but to be honest I also never expected to be playing professional soccer in Victoria either. So that in itself is quite the dream. Growing up I never thought we’d have a professional team and definitely didn’t think I’d ever be the captain of that team. But in hindsight I look back on it all and it does make sense to me. Now that I do have (the captain’s armband), it’s a huge honour and something I’m very excited for.”
Going back to Dixon, the captain when Pacific FC lifted the North Star Shield in 2021, he lays out for Heard the most challenging and rewarding aspects of wearing that armband.
“The most challenging is obviously having to deal with so much more than you did before, because now you’re also the liaison between the coaching staff and the players. Obviously you’re still a player so there are problems that you’re gonna have to address and deal with from that perspective to help the other guys out. But it’s really about the little things and giving the right advice. And giving the right advice can be difficult at times because football is football and you never know what’s going to happen next”
“The most rewarding part is definitely when you put on the armband and step out on the pitch when the team morale and energy is high and you get that win for not only you, but for the city, the supporters, the players, the coaches, and it all kind of ties together. You’re the gel, you’re there to keep everything together good or bad.”
Dixon’s final piece of advice for Heard shows the deep understanding he has for what this important role entails.
“I would take the time to learn how all my players are so I can understand them on a deeper level when we do have conflicts. Then I can understand where they’re coming from or what problems they’ve had off the field. And you can’t just talk to the players that are doing well, you also have to be able to talk to the players that are struggling and you gotta help them to understand the bigger picture of the team and how they can contribute even if they’re not necessarily playing 90 minutes or on the bench consistently.”
Present and Future Goals
This year, Pacific FC is in a sense going back to its roots – Trust The Kids – with many young players and new faces in the squad. With that comes the responsibility to show the new guys what a championship-winning environment looks like. Lucky for them, that is Heard’s ultimate focus for the upcoming season.
“Obviously the easy one to say is ‘ we wanna win it all’, but I think for me I want to get the best out of everyone in that locker room – players and staff – my job is to make sure everyone can do their job to their absolute potential. So if I can get the most out of everybody everyday then that’s a big part of the job.”
It’s also worth noting that Heard is not alone in this. As part of the announcement of Pacific FC’s new captain, the rest of the leadership team was announced as well. Alongside Heard are Manny Aparicio, Amer Didic, and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère. These three players are some of the most accomplished veterans in the Canadian Premier League with Aparicio and Meilleur-Giguère also being a part of the 2021 title-winning team with Heard and Dixon.
All three of Aparicio, Didic, and Meilleur-Giguère are the most vocal players on the pitch and in training. They are quick to take a younger player aside and give advice in the moment, and have the experience and talent to back it up.
“You always want the supporting cast to be there for you,” says Dixon, “and I think these three guys are a fantastic choice. They’ve been here a while now; Thomas has been here since 2020, Manny has been here since 2021, and Amer just got here last year so these guys have seen the club evolve. It’s important to have their support.”
The new captain and leadership team have already been hard at work this preseason preparing for another exciting season for the club. The energy is palpable during training and the whole squad is itching to get the season started in just about a month’s time.
For Heard, he’s incredibly focused on the season ahead, but also wants to make a lasting mark in his hometown.
“I want to be known off the field as a great leader and great example in the community, and on the field I wanna be known as a winner. It’s gonna take a lot of work from myself and everyone around me, but that’s what I want my legacy to be.”
Single Game tickets are available starting Thursday March 16th for members of the Pacific FC Insider List. Be the first to choose your seats by joining here. Public sale of Single Game tickets begins Friday March 17th.
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