VANCOUVER, BC – One could say that Theo Bair dreams big.
From the age of five, the ‘Caps forward knew that he wanted to be a professional soccer player when he grew up. Well, at the young age of 19 years old, Bair is all grown up.
“This is me living out my dream,” he told whitecapsfc.com before departing for this week’s MLS Homegrown Game in Orlando. “This is me living out goals that I set for myself, so this is really exciting for me. It’s everything that I want.”
The Ottawa native, who spent three seasons in the Whitecaps FC Academy, got his first MLS minutes as a second-half substitute on May 25 against FC Dallas.
“I knew that my parents were watching me and that had me very excited, but I was also very nervous,” Bair said. “I didn’t know exactly how it was going to go but I knew I just had to go in and do a job. I just kept thinking, ‘Be reliable Theo, that’s all you can do, just be reliable and work your socks off.’”
Since then, Bair has collected 289 minutes in a ‘Caps jersey, including six straight appearances. His path to the first-team, however, was not without its challenges.
“I didn’t start, at some points I didn’t even make the bench when I first came to the Academy,” Bair said. “At that point, it was just frustration because I wasn’t used to not playing but it was also like, ‘What is happening? Is it I’m not good enough? What’s the problem?’”
“I sacrificed a lot, I lost friends, I left my school, I left my family – that was the biggest part – and the fact that I’m finally getting minutes for the club that I wanted to play for for the better part of four years is like a dream come true.”
And the opportunities keep coming.
This week, Bair is representing Whitecaps FC at MLS All-Star Week in Orlando and was selected to participate in the MLS Homegrown Game on Tuesday against Chivas de Guadalajara’s U-20s.
“It’s really exciting for me because a lot of the guys that I’m going to go play with are guys that I’ve previously played with or against at the national team level or academy,” Bair said. “So it’s good to know that we’re all rising together and the league has a bright future and I get to be a part of it.”
Bair said he’s also excited to watch Zlatan Ibrahimović – one of his childhood idols – in action.
“The fact that I’m going to be training around him and getting to watch him up close and getting to watch him play live, not against my team, is going to be very, very exciting.”
Bair doesn’t know what’s next for him, but he does know that he’s not done dreaming.
“I want so much more,” he said, “but it’s just the beginning.”