Fresh air and a fresh start for Aidan Daniels

When the 2020 USL Championship season kicks off, it will be the first professional season for Aidan Daniels that he is not under contract with the Toronto FC organization. The 21-year-old Canadian has signed with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC after his contract option was declined by TFC. “Colorado Springs has been really nice! I’ve gotten to know some of my teammates in the last 2 weeks and I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far,” Daniels told BGN. “I haven’t been out exploring yet because I am a wimp when it comes to the cold but I’ve heard and want to try some things and restaurants. I really want to try “The Incline” but I got to wait a bit until it warms up!”

Last season, Daniels had the chance to play away from Toronto as well, on loan with Ottawa Fury FC in the USL Championship. He said, “Ottawa was a great learning experience, I learned a lot from some of the older guys there like Nana Attakora, Jamar Dixon and Wall Fall. I got close to Charlie Ward and Dakota Barnathan along with some guys I knew from beforehand and they helped me stay engaged mentally especially when I was hurt.” He finished the 2019 season with 14 appearances and two key passes and one goal.

The midfielder added, “I didn’t get the amount of playing time I wanted, but ultimately I feel I am more mature as a player and person. Special shoutout to Charlie though, we share the same taste in a lot of things like music and especially sneakers. We still keep in contact and talked about battling it out in the first game of the year. So I’m looking forward to that, and winning the game too.”

After playing for some of the Canadian junior national teams, Deaze, as he was nicknamed by the aforementioned Ward, is hoping he can someday make an appearance for the first team of his native country. “Playing for the National team growing up has been a dream. I think it’s the biggest honour, to represent your country at any level,” he explained. “I would love to be capped at the senior level its always been a dream of mine. Seeing some of my homies and people I’ve played with make the jump has been amazing to see, most recently one of my best friends Liam Fraser. Hopefully, him and I and a lot of my other old teammates can share the pitch again soon wearing the Canadian badge.”

Daniels had options when it came to his journey as an international player. His mother is from the Philippines and his father is from South Africa. I asked Aidan about what he took away from those two unique backgrounds. “To be honest, Filipino food is amazing, I’ve learned to cook some things and have introduced this one dish to all my friends back home and everyone loves it. My mom is very hardworking and doesn’t take anything from anyone, so I kind of have that mentality as well. Nothing like my grandmas cooking though…”

“From my dad’s side, I just have to say football was the thing I picked up. My grandfather played professional in South Africa, and later on played for Sporting in Portugal. Most of my uncles played professional and my dad was about to but tore his Achilles. But both my parents have similar upbringings, they worked hard for everything they have gotten, and have sacrificed so much for my brother and I. Something they have instilled in me from when I was a kid, was to always work hard, stay humble and be respectful of everyone around you but never let people walk all over you. My parents are my best friends and I love them very much.”

Not only will Daniels be motivated by his exit from Toronto, but he will also be fueled to keep the legacy alive of his favorite athlete. “Yeah I idolized Kobe from a young age. His mentality and his drive to be the best inspired me to work hard and be the best version of myself not only in my sport but in life,” he said. “He made such an impact in the game of Basketball and in the sports world in general. I feel like I lost a friend because I looked up to him so much. He was the ultimate competitor and I think that’s why I considered him the greatest of all time, over MJ and Lebron. With him passing, its just a reminder to embrace your loved ones, cherish the moments you share with them and always be grateful because tomorrow isn’t promised.” When I asked Aidan if he might switch his kit number to 8 or 24 to honor the Black Mamba this season, he answered, ” I would consider 8, but 13 is a family number and family means the most to me. Rest in peace Kobe, your legacy will live on.”

The Mamba Mentality and a fresh start will definitely be pushing Aidan Daniels in his first season with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. He will get his first chance to star for his new club against Charlie Ward and OKC Energy FC on March 7th at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma.

Author