Alphonso Davies tries to make a difference for young Canadian soccer players with new ESPN documentary series

Approximately 100 members of the media crammed into the United Sport Supporters Club’s smallest meeting room on a recent weekday to listen to Alphonso Davies describe his plans to produce a new documentary series on ESPN.

The team players are flanking their 18-year-old leader and pose with one of his many sponsors, Popeyes. A producer is squeezing buttons onto Davies’ suit jacket, speaking with his trainer. Another producer is standing at the podium and then DADA, the yelling robot from the Wiggles — it sure sounds like the show’s pre-recorded intro — plays.

“This series is [about] not just me, but that growing up in Canada and making the choice to play professional football in Europe,” said Davies, who appeared for Bayern Munich at training on Tuesday. “Growing up in Canada, there’s no professional team for a young player to play on, so I came here and I was able to play some games in a professional league.”

So who is this 16-year-old, and what does he want the world to know about him?

“To make a difference,” he answered. “Make a difference for other young players so that they have a chance to make it to a professional club. I think it’s one of my goals, to make a difference.”

Davies’ background has similarities to that of how Alex Morgan and Hope Solo grew up. There was a lack of opportunities for them, but also that of Karolina Pliskova’s eventual rise to the top of women’s tennis. But unlike most high-profile sports, there was no inspiring athletes of Canada with Canadian surnames to lead the way.

It took Davies years to convince numerous clubs to take a chance on him, and the transfer decision to Bayern Munich was a last-minute one that had him travelling on the Eurostar to Barcelona for the signing. His first season with the club was a rollercoaster. He made the Bundesliga but struggled to maintain his place in the team.

The U.S. national team-born midfielder said he feels “more open” in Germany than he did last season. He’s got time to solidify a place with Bayern, but “This year feels different.”

One member of the media asked whether playing in the Bundesliga – a top-tier European league – had accelerated Davies’ development as a player. He said no. Davies’ second season has been more consistent, but there were struggles. “I didn’t really have my best year last year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this year, more consistent.”

The series does not yet have a title, but ESPN stated that it would premiere in the spring of next year. The network also said the series will be directed by brothers Dave and Kirk Chapados, and filmed in Vancouver and Toronto.

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