The Calgary Cavalry recently selected local student Eryk Kobza in the second round of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) draft last December. He is the 14th overall selection.
The midfielder and centre back previously played for the University of Calgary Dinos, Podlasie Biala Podlaska and Sokol Ostroda in Poland, and Vancouver’s Whitecaps FC Academy.
Born and raised in North Vancouver, Kobza’s early football training included playing for the Whitecaps FC Academy, the youth affiliate of the Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer (MLS). The academy’s player development program aims to develop football in Canada and has been a gateway to professional football, scholarships, Canadian national teams, and the MLS.
He developed quickly as a football player with the Whitecaps and was selected to the U15 Canada National team.
After graduating from high school, Kobza decided to pursue kinesiology at the University of Calgary and play for the Dinos soccer team.
His rookie season with the Dinos was a memorable one. He made his collegiate debut in the season opener against Mount Royal University (MRU) and played a major role throughout the season. He then helped take the team to their first-ever appearance at the U SPORTS National Championship. He played in 17 of the 2019 season’s 19 games, tallying four assists and eight points.
The Dinos won silver at the Canada West Championships and played two games before being eliminated from the U SPORTS National Championship. Following the 2019 season, Kobza was named to the Canada West all-rookie first team.
Most athletes are very particular with preparation, and Kobza is no different.
“Before every game, my routine starts when I open my eyes in the morning. I make a good breakfast, stretch, and organize all my equipment and gear so I don’t forget anything. I put on my headphones and play whatever my favourite songs are at the time—stuff to pump me up and get me in the zone. I like to show up extra early before games to give myself more time to warm up and get game ready,” he said.
For Kobza, whose second nationality and language is Polish, visits to Poland were a regular occurrence throughout his childhood.
In 2020, he took his talent back to his homeland, where he joined the Podlasie Biala Podlaska. Podlasie plays in group IV of the 3 Liga professional football league.
That same season, Kobza transferred to Sokol Ostroda, also a Liga 3 professional football team, this time in group I. He played 26 games for the entire season, scoring two goals and one assist while shining in the midfield.
“My time playing in Poland was really fun. Polish is my second language, so I fit in immediately with my teammates. Playing in front of a few thousand people was a great experience, especially in Europe, where they take football very seriously,” said Kobza.
When COVID-19 shortened the 2021 season, Kobza cut his stint in Poland short and returned to the Dinos. He played and started in all 10 games of the season and finished the year with two goals and one assist. The Dinos carried an undefeated season into the last weekend of play but ended up dropping two games to MacEwan University.
The following year, the Dinos were back for revenge—this time, with Kobza as team captain. With a strong regular season, they stormed their way into the Canada West Championships, beating Thompson Rivers University in the quarterfinal and MRU in the semifinal. The fire burnt out in the season’s final moments as they fell to the University of British Columbia in a penalty shootout to win silver.
Kobza finished the 2022 season with three goals and three assists and played in 1,492 of the possible 1,500 minutes in a season. He was named to the Canada West all-star second team following his impressive final season with the Dinos.
“There’s really nothing bad you could ever say about this kid. He’s respectful on and off the pitch. He carries himself in a professional way, and that’s why he’s playing professional right now,” said Brendan O’Connell, head coach of the Dinos soccer team.
Since being drafted into the CPL by the Calgary Cavalry, Kobza has been training in preparation for the upcoming season, which starts in April. The team plays at ATCO Field in Spruce Meadows, which has a capacity of over 6,000 spectators.
It’s not all work and no play for Kobza, however.
“I like to bike a lot. I’ll go on full 30- kilometre rides through Calgary. It really keeps my cardio and endurance up for the off-season and really helps during the season,” he said.
He also finds time to hit the slopes.
“I love to ski. I go about once a month during the ski season. It’s another thing I’ve been doing for a long time—me and my family just went on a whole two-week trip over Christmas to three different hills.”
But beyond soccer and the CPL, it is clear that only good things can be expected of Kobza.
“I spend a lot of time on schoolwork. I maintain a high average and have high expectations for myself. No matter the class, I’ll put my full focus and effort into getting the best grades that I can.”