While playing pick-up soccer on a Sunday afternoon in November 2004, conversation relating to the amount of current and former Croatian soccer players and teams in the Hamilton area arose. That discussion spawned more ideas which eventually led to our initial declaration in March 2005:
“Here is an idea a some of us with Hamilton Croatia have been talking about for a few months – an outline of sorts to the proposed ‘Croatian Indoor Soccer League’. At the moment we are not looking for any kind of financial commitment. We are merely getting the word across about the potential of this league, and letting you know that it may be there if you would like to join. Feel free to give us your recommendations about the format of the league, and possible ways to set it up, promote it, and run it.”
The league is named the CROATIAN INDOOR SOCCER LEAGUE of HAMILTON, known as the CISL. Initially it was thought that the league would run on Sunday afternoons, but there was more interest in a Friday night league. After months of preparation, on Friday, October 28th, 2005 the inaugural season of the eight-team CISL kicked off with NK Majstori defeating eventual playoff champions Tvrdi Kamen 9-5.
The CISL has a committee that helps run the operations of the league, including field booking, scheduling, referee assignments, the website, and other matters. But when the committee and players govern the league together, input and ideas are welcome all the time. This is what sets the CISL apart from any other league around.
With this method, we came up with the “three-goals-down” penalty shot rule to keep scores close and games interesting. If your team is losing 3-0, you get a penalty shot. If it’s 4-1, you get another. If you keep scoring your shots, you’re always only two goals away from tying the game.
In the first two years the league hosted “All-Star Saturday Night”, which consisted of a Skills Competition followed by a showcase of the best players in the league.
Finally, the season culminates with “Championship Friday”. Like in Week One, everyone plays, either in one of the “bowl” games, the third-place game, or the final. The Playoff Championship trophy was named the “Živko Cup”, after long-time Club bartender and retired Dofasco employee Živko Jurić.
“Capped” and “non-capped” players, regular season awards, and catered post-game meals were all ideas from different people helping to make the CISL become a staple in our Friday nights from Halloween to Easter. The CISL is just another way for the Croatian community to grow stronger and stay together.