The Montreal Impact say their next coach needs to be able to speak both English and French, but is this new policy a good thing for the club?
With only a few weeks left until the start of preseason training camp, the Montreal Impact have yet to sign a coach for next season and after almost two months of media silence on the issue, the club released a statement on its website last Friday evening assuring the fans that the search was progressing well and that they were in talks with five candidates.
Club president Joey Saputo announced through his Twitter account on Wednesday that the club's search is now narrowed down to two.
As well as being a coach who would be willing to work closely with other members of the technical staff and the club's acadamies, the Impact mentioned in last week's notice that the next boss must also be able to speak both English and French.
English is obviously a necessity given the fact it is is the common language of the Impact’s roster and the rest of the league, but French, on the other hand, is not required and the immediate concern is that in making French a compulsory prerequisite for coaches, the club will be severely reducing its coaching options in both the present and future.
The basis by which Montrealers decide to attend a team sporting event has never had anything to do with the linguistic prowess of whoever’s in charge, but with the product on display. Alouettes coach Marc Trestman barely speaks a word of French and yet the CFL team has had excellent and unwavering attendance during his tenure. With the exception of the Montreal Canadiens, who always boast a full Bell Centre, the golden rule in Montreal is that winning teams are well attended, and losing ones are not.
Language is simply not an issue.
There is, however, more about the Impact then its first team. The club also has three academy sides and these teams are comprised of mostly local players whose language is, for the most part, French. Two of the Impact’s three academy head coaches are from France as well. Therefore, having a coach who could speak French would certainly help create seamless communication throughout the club’s different echelons, and would make the first team a more familiar and comfortable habitat for those academy players that are able to progress to it.
As much as this bilingual policy will likely limit the club’s coaching options to France and Switzerland, the Impact have built very good relationships in these markets over the last decade, and it should give the club enough viable options.
If the Canadiens are well attended, irrespective of their place in the standings, its because the team has engrained itself into the cultural fabric of the city.
Perhaps having a bilingual coach is only a very small step, but it does show that the Impact are willing to do the same.