The path back to Ottawa has been anything but easy for Atlético Ottawa’s newest defender. In 2017 while training in Finland, Drew Beckie suffered a cardiac arrest due to a condition known as Myocarditis but thankfully recovered fully. When asked how his journey back to football has been, Drew stated that:
“To be honest with you, it’s been pretty easy to be fair, there were times where there was a lot of times out, there was a lot of time where I didn’t think I’d be able to come back and play but my faith helped me through that.”
The time off during recovery also helped Drew re-identify himself with the game and himself.
“The game is very important don’t get me wrong but it’s not as important as it used to be. My identity doesn’t lie in the game, but I would be lying if I said it’s not important to me”.
In the footballing world, it is very easy for players and fans not to distinguish between a player during the game and outside of the game. However, Drew has always tried to make that personal distinction. It played a big part in why Drew joined Atlético Ottawa.
“People knowing me as a person is more important than people knowing me as a football player. When I was younger, I struggled with that aspect that I wanted to be the best player that I could, and people judged me on how good I was as a player. I really cared about those things when they weren’t important. I think that faith and life in general and taking that time to say, Drew, it’s not as important as you think it is, is important because you meet a lot of great people during your career, and that’s what you remember. So, since that time, I’ve tried to really focus on that. That was one of the big reasons I decided to take this opportunity with Ottawa because of the people and the effect that I think my experience can have on the younger players and the league."
Drew’s impact reaches far beyond the footballing world. During his previous tenure in Ottawa with the Fury, he started a program called Walking In Griefs Shadow (WINGS). The purpose of this program was to help kids who were dealing with the loss of a parent. This program has a personal connection with Drew.
“When I was growing up, I was part of a group that helped with kids whose parents were going through cancer treatment and dealing with those emotions mentally and emotionally.”
Drew’s father passed away when he was 11 after a three-year battle with skin cancer, but Drew wanted to make a program that wasn’t just specific to cancer.
“WINGS I wanted to make it a little bit more broad, so to be back in Canada with better support and funding for such programs, I was able to set up WINGS where we were able to bring in families who had experienced a loss of a parent for any reason. These families were able to come watch a game and afterwards see the facilities. As well we met and sat down and if they wanted to talk about things, they could do that. But they also had access to therapy and that was the big thing and something I would love to expand on now that I’m back in Ottawa.”
Drew was disappointed that he couldn’t continue WINGS when he left the Fury but plans to bring it back as soon as he can.
Drew Beckie has played for many teams across North America, but the last time he played in Canada, the CPL was just an idea. However, as the concept has finally come to fruition, Drew is extremely pleased to be finally part of the league.
“Throughout my youth, I never played for my country in my own country, so now to be in a Canadian league with Canadian players at the forefront is the next step for a lot of young players to get an opportunity and say, ‘this is something I can strive for now that it’s my own country and there is an opportunity for me, I know I can make it’.”
Drew acknowledges that young players are still looking to play in Europe at the topflight but also realizes the importance of having realistic goals that they can accomplish.
“The young kids are still saying I want to play in the Champions League, I want to play for Man City, or Bayern Munich, which is great, but you now can look at an opportunity where if I’m a person from Ottawa, now I can play for Atlético Ottawa, which is a tangible goal that is right in front of you where it wasn’t available before.”
Drew states that the CPL provides a more linear jump for kids who are looking to play professionally.
Many of Atlético Ottawa’s players have mentioned that the connection between Atlético Ottawa and Atlético Madrid played a big part in why they joined the club. While the relationship did have a role to play, Drew says that’s not the main reason he joined the team.
“It’s a market that I knew; that was the big selling point. I know people in Ottawa. I know the city, I know how to get around, I know where people live, and that’s a special thing for me instead of going somewhere else where I don’t know that."
Drew Beckie has already started the relationship off with supporters on a good foot, although by accident. Atlético Ottawa fans found that Drew would be signing with the team weeks before the announcement through an accidental Instagram leak where an Atlético Ottawa kit was hanging in the closet in the background of Drew’s Instagram story.
“Those posts weren’t on purpose, that’s just me sharing what I was watching, and the kit was in the background, but no it wasn’t intentional. I guess when you look back at it, it could have been a little bit like that, but it was never my intention. However, it’s nice to be part of this team and great to see that people want to know these things and that’s what we need for the league and the sport to grow and for us players because without fans it’s nothing and we need that, and we care about those things and it’s important for fans to know that.”
Drew alongside Atlético Ottawa and the fans are patiently waiting for the CPL announcement, which should bring more light to when and where the league will play. However, in the meantime, Drew has a final message to the fans.
“I hope we get to see you sooner rather than later and that this COVID thing settles down and everyone is healthy and can come to a game because it’s different when you are not playing in front of fans so we are really excited to see everybody and see what this brand of club has done in Ottawa because it’s completely different than from my time with the Fury, and I’m excited to see how it’s paid off.”
Despite being a different club, Drew is extremely excited to return to Ottawa, and fans are excited to see what he brings to this bolstering side.