Pa-Modou Kah’s Pacific FC soaks Hamilton Forge to claim historic CanPL title


By Darnel Harris         

Pa-Modou Kah

Pacific FC arrived at Tim Hortons Field from Vancouver Island on Sunday afternoon determined to become the 2021 Canadian Premier League (CanPL) victors. By nightfall, they had taken the North Star Shield from Hamilton’s Forge FC; and wrote themselves into the history books – skippered by the first black coach and captain to win Canada’s professional men’s soccer league.

Coming into the 2021 CanPL Finals, Hamilton’s Forge FC seemed a stern force to be reckoned with. Despite having played a match every three to four days in 2021 – nationally and internationally – they still finished first in the league table. Then on November 21 2021, Forge dismantled Toronto’s ‘York United’ in the semi-finals, winning 3-1 and firing 22 shots to York’s 6.

Despite Forge’s pedigree and previous poor results, Pacific FC had reason to be confident of their chances. Going into the playoffs, Coach Pa-Modou Kah’s Pacific had scored far more goals than any other side in the league, and Pacific defeated Calgary’s Calvary FC in their semi-final with patient defending and surging shots from close range. Also, unlike Forge FC, they had the opportunity to spend two weeks resting and training with focus as their opponents battled in Honduras.  

Known for their flowing attack, Pacific was inspired by Muhammad Ali, employing a successful rope-a-dope strategy to tire out Forge. Their efforts paid off when they were fortunate to score off a corner free kick in the 59th minute; immediately after which freezing rain began to intensify. Pacific’s Captain Jamar Dixon, born in Ottawa to a Jamaican father and a Barbadian mother, then kept his side focused to lock out Forge.

Pacific FC’s win earned it the CanPL’s spot in the CONCACAF League (our region’s second tier club competition equivalent to the UEFA Europa League), and praise at home for bringing Vancouver Island their first professional championship in over fifty years. However, when the whistle blew, all Coach Kah could think about was his wife, kids, and all the support he had received in his soccer journey.

Born in Banjul, The Gambia, Kah and his family emigrated to Norway in 1988. His soccer career included years as part of Norway’s national team, before playing on the West coast and settling as a coach in British Columbia. Asked what his success would mean for minorities, Kah replied, “(It shows) not only can we play, but also we can be coaches, we can be in leadership positions, and to be able to do it is magnificent. I hope it opens doors for other people to step in and do the job.”