Name: Daryl Fordyce
DOB: May 2nd, 1987
Club: Valour FC
Hometown: Sandy Row, Belfast
Touching down in Winnipeg can be a shock to the senses, the chill capable of penetrating the skin and getting right to the bone. Ireland could hardly be categorised as exotic but in the depths of winter it has arguably more in common with a Caribbean island than the frosty metropolis of Manitoba's largest city.
Having spent a number of years in Canada playing with Edmonton FC before moving back to Ireland, Daryl Fordyce was familiar with how even mere exposure to these frigid conditions can make the body feel like it is under siege from the elements. Temperatures can drop as low as -40 Celsius during the winter, reaching the mid-30s by the time the summer comes around.
Returning to Canada, however, despite the extremities, was always the plan for the Belfast man and his family. He arrived home in Ireland after Edmonton FC, his previous club, folded in preparation for the inaugural Canadian Premier League which kicked off last season, but after a season with Sligo Rovers he has returned to North America where excitement is building ahead of only the second ever season in the newly established league.
After a successful inaugural year, ironing out any of the wrinkles that come with a new competition, teams are returning to pre-season training, albeit indoors for now. Playing outside isn’t feasible in this weather.
“You don’t really understand until you go outside and feel the cold,” the Belfast man says. “Today it was -37 Celsius – it hurts. But the summers are excellent. I believe Winnipeg has one of the most extreme climates around the world. It goes from the most extreme cold to being hot. But nothing stops. Everything keeps moving here.
“The lifestyle here – for me – is the best of any I have experienced around the world, especially for family.”
The league itself is divided into two seasons – the spring season and the fall season – with the winners of each going through to the league final at the end of the year.
Last year ran smoothly but Fordyce wasn’t around to experience it. He was back in Ireland, playing for the Sligo Rovers. But despite loving his time at the Showgrounds a return across the Atlantic was always milling through his mind.
“I was in Belfast in May  starting my coaching badges. The plan was that once I finished the couple of weeks I was there I was to go to Scotland to see if I could get a contract sorted. If I wasn’t going to be there, go back to Belfast and get a contract sorted, or Sligo or Dublin or wherever it was.
“The plan was to fly back to Canada, get my wife and then fly back to wherever we were going.”
Eventually, Tina, his wife, rang and plans were slightly scuppered.
“She was unable to fly due to some blood condition. We ended up staying until our first baby was born but the Canadian league still wasn’t going to be ready until April of 2019.
“The baby was born in August – there was still a long way to go. So we decided to go home and see family. We were going to go back to Canada and an agent called me and said: ‘Sligo are looking for a midfielder. Are you able to go down and play a game?’
“So I drove down to Sligo the next day.”
He fitted in seamlessly with the Bit O'Red, prompting manager Liam Buckley to immediately sign him. "We absolutely loved it. What a wonderful place Sligo is."
Ultimately, the pull from across the Atlantic was too strong and the Fordyce household seem content to be looking into the future from their new Winnipeg abode.
As Fordyce takes a call in the middle of the day from Ireland, he’s just in the door from training and is feeding lunch to his son who watches cartoons on the television. But to assume that he is ready to turn off the lights on his playing career would be a gross miscalculation, the Northern Ireland man insisting that there’s a couple of gallons left in the tank.
“I want to play until I’m 40. That’s my goal and I’m 33 now. Right now my body feels to be in better condition than it did this time last year. I’ve got a season under me whereas I wasn’t playing in 2018.
“I want to be here long-term but soccer can change from season to season. Who knows what will happen?”
There are few certainties in this profession. For Fordyce though, staying in Canada for the long haul seems damn close to being one of them.