Pitch Fest Strikes Montreal

New Soccer Festival to Promote the Sport’s Culture Through Arts, Films and Music

  • Restaurant owner Paul Desbaillets (left), Montreal Impact player Patrice Bernier (middle) and TSN radio host Noel Butler hope to shed light on the beautiful game’s culture with their new soccer festival, Pitch Fest. Photo Brandon Johnston

  • Photo Brandon Johnston

Reggae legend and soccer lover Bob Marley once said, “Football is a whole skill to itself. A whole world. A whole universe to itself.”

And that’s exactly what the first edition of Montreal’s Pitch Fest will seek to demonstrate in its three-day event, taking place inside Montreal’s Corona Theatre.

Starting on Thursday, the event will promote soccer’s culture through film, art installations, exhibits and live music.

“[It’s for] anyone with a basic interest and knowledge about football,” said TSN Radio 690 host Noel Butler, who co-founded Pitch Fest alongside The Burgundy Lion restaurant owner Paul Desbaillets.

In addition, Pitch Fest has enlisted Montreal Impact midfielder and Canadian international player Patrice Bernier as the event’s ambassador and, as Butler describes it, the “face” of the first ever Pitch Fest.

“It’s a privilege, an honour, to be chosen as an ambassador for Pitch Fest,” said Bernier.

In Bernier’s eyes, Pitch Fest can surely do good for the advancement of the culture of soccer in Montreal.

He said it’s important to improve the culture of soccer so it can overcome borders and gender. “[It] is more than just the onfield actions,” Bernier said.

Bernier will also be accompanied by RDS soccer analyst and former Impact player Patrick Leduc, along with a bevy of journalists who will discuss the soccer culture.

The event will be host to notable soccer documentaries, including the North American premiere of Ladies’ Turn, a documentary that follows female soccer players in Senegal and the prejudice and challenges they face in order to play. The festival will also screen a documentary on Marley.

Bernier said he was looking forward to Les Rebelles du Foot, a documentary on famous soccer players who have fought against political and social issues affecting their home countries.The film is narrated by Manchester United soccer legend Éric Cantona.

Art installations and exhibits at Pitch Fest will also expand upon the soccer theme. Numerous DJs will provide music for the three-day event, including a yet-to-be-named headlining act.

While Canada has hosted a number of soccer games and tournaments in recent years with much success, they have a ways to go before they can match soccer-crazed nations in Europe and South America.

However, Bernier says Montreal has shown promise in comparison to the rest of Canada.

“We are a developing soccer nation,” he said. “Montreal is at the forefront of soccer in Canada.”

Bernier hopes Pitch Fest can jump-start Canada’s interest in the sport, taking the country’s coverage of soccer to new heights in the future.

“It’s progressing well,” said Bernier. “But I am hoping for the day it will be on newspapers for pages and pages, and on TV with shows discussing the world of football weekly.”

Montreal Pitch Fest will be taking place at the Corona Theatre from Dec. 5 to Dec. 7. One-day passes are $15 each, while three-day passes are $40.

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