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05 February 5:36 pm

Hey friends and fellow GK's,
 
Sorry it has been so long but I was back in California for the offseason, went to a couple bachelor parties, made a few trips, and got married. Wasn't really in the mode to chat soccer, but now that I'm back in Vancouver, I wanted to write a few thoughts down.
 
Recently, I have received some emails asking what high school kids can do to play college soccer. Although it seems a fairly simple question, the answers are sometimes not so simple. The first thing one must do is to realistically view themselves. Do I have a chance at playing? If so, what level? Have I been contacted by anyone? Has someone ever recommended college? 
 
So you think you have a shot huh? Well there are a few basic things that all students should do to have the best options to play at the college level. First, you have to study. I look back on my high school days and wish I would have put a little more time and energy into my schoolwork. There were so many colleges where I did not have the opportunity to play because of my grades. Right away, I closed a few doors. Secondly, you have to currently be playing soccer at a competitive level. Of course there are always exceptions, but for the most part, coaches are looking at players from all over the country (sometimes the world) to fill out their rosters. Like everything else in life, the higher you go up in level, the more competitive the field becomes. To help yourself out, make a list of colleges you would like to attend. Dream colleges, back up schools, interesting places that you could see yourself going and being happy.
 
The next step is to simply write to the coaches of those schools. Let them know you are interested. This will go a long way. Coaches have no clue who to recruit at times and the last thing they want to do is waste time trying to recruit someone who is not even interested in their school. When I was younger, I had a lot of pride and waited for coaches to contact me. I look back and realize how foolish I was. Don't make the same mistakes I made. 
 
Also, make sure that you have on file a highlight tape that includes a few minutes of you in games. Be very selective with the highlights. Make them relevant to what you want to show. Try not to show you kicking the ball a thousand times and then making 3 saves. Coaches want to see you making good decisions and manifesting good technique. Ask a current coach or someone who has played in college to give you more direction. Or you can just send me a link to your videos and I can give a quick summary. You may have to wait awhile though..haha
 
The next topic I want to touch on is the offseason. For younger players, this is usually the summer, but nowadays, it's different all over. If you are really serious about your dream of playing soccer in college or professionally, the offseason is not a time to waste just vacationing and playing video games. Although I did my fair share of that as a youngster, I was also very keen on trying to find people to play with and find games. If you're a bit older, you can lift, do plyometrics and basically work on getting stronger. Ask your coach or trainer what they would like to see you work on and just do it!!
 
There was an old saying at the St. Francis High School weight room. It went something like this: "When you are not training, there is someone out there who is. And when you meet them, they will win." It pretty much tells you the story. You have to want it more than anyone else. Throw out skill and technique, and give me a kid with desire. It is easier to take these motivated kids and work out the other stuff. In saying that, these motivated kids tend to also be students of the game. 
 
Here in Canada, our younger players in the Whitecaps FC Residency program live and breathe soccer. They train almost daily in hopes of realizing their dreams to play soccer professionally. What will happen when you face these kids?? Your work ethic and determination are the only answers to that question.
 
Best Wishes and
 
may the posts be with you....
 
05 December 2:47 pm

(Photo provided by Toby Gorman/NEWS BULLETIN)

If you’ve read my blog before then you have surely heard me mention the vision that the ownership group of Vancouver Whitecaps FC have for the club and for the game of soccer here in Vancouver, and in fact across the province and country. 

They are very passionate about the direction they want the ‘Caps to go in, and one of the main goals for the club is to continue to develop the grassroots level of the sport.

These are certainly lofty goals and ones that will take a great deal of collaboration. Yes, Whitecaps FC can take a leadership role in this, but it is impossible for the club do this on our own.

There has always been a belief in the ‘Caps organization that in order to be successful we need to be developing our own young players, and that means building partnerships around British Columbia and beyond.

Last week I had the pleasure of going to Nanaimo for the announcement of a new Whitecaps FC Island Academy Centre in partnership with Harbour City FC. There was certainly a buzz surrounding the announcement and a ton of enthusiasm from locals that there was now support and collaboration from the ‘Caps.

Creating these academies means the club is building relationships in these communities and hopefully becoming an asset, as well as providing some leadership in player development.

Vancouver Island joins the ‘Caps academy centre network that includes Vancouver, the Okanagan, and the Kootenays, with more to be added in the near future. Make no bones about it, Whitecaps FC are intent on branching out near and far to help grow the game to nurture young players who could one day star for the Blue and White.

There are many challenges for those who live outside of the Lower Mainland. It’s sometimes hard to get high level coaching or the competition they need week in and week out. These academy centres will not solve every problem, but it will establish a clearer pathway to achieving soccer success.

These communities now have a firm belief that their young players can not only dream about taking their soccer to the next level, but will have an opportunity to do so.

Remember, I too was once a boy who closely followed his favourite team and dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player.

Now there are many more kids in BC who can have good reason to hold that same dream.

06 November 6:11 pm

A familiar face to Whitecaps FC fans was appointed to an important role in Canadian soccer on Tuesday, as Tony Fonseca was named the Canadian Soccer Association’s new Technical Director.

The former Portuguese international, who was a Whitecaps FC player and head coach (2002-2004) during the club’s United Soccer Leagues First Division days, has been tasked with overseeing ‘the technical growth and development of soccer in Canada’. No small job…

The timing of Fonseca’s appointment is important, as Canada look to chart a new course after last month’s qualifying exit from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. His understanding of the Canadian soccer landscape will be invaluable to addressing the many challenges of his new role.

With the responsibility of establishing new technical policies for Canadian soccer, Fonseca’s influence on player development - particularly at the elite level - will be closely scrutinized by the media and Canadian soccer supporters alike.

Canada’s three Major League Soccer clubs are currently in the business of elite player development and have expressed a willingness to strengthen their relationship with the CSA on this key issue.

Creating a productive player development system through strong collaboration will be essential to Canada’s ability to produce top players at the professional and international level.

Fonseca knows the good work that Whitecaps FC Residency, Toronto FC Academy, and Montreal Impact Academy have been doing in recent years, and is keen to establish a strong partnership between these elite soccer stakeholders.

Where the biggest challenge may lie is in further educating those involved in grassroots soccer across Canada that a different player development pathway is desperately needed. In other words, making those individuals rethink the way they see grassroots soccer in their own communities.

The CSA and Canada’s professional clubs know they have a role to play in this regard and that making such changes will be difficult. However, what should excite Canadian soccer fans is the strong desire that now exists to implement real change.

Congrats Tony and best of luck!

26 September 1:05 pm

On weekend of Saturday, September 15, I spent time on the Sunshine Coast working with all of their teams over two days as part of a partnership between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Sunshine Coast Youth Soccer Association.

This was my fourth visit this year with at least one more visit to come. The experience I have had so far has been excellent, and as we continue to build our partnership I expect the experiences to get better and better.

Whitecaps FC are committed to growing the game of soccer in British Columbia and being an asset throughout the community. There is no way we can make this happen on our own though. In order to achieve these goals we need to build partnerships that we can nurture and grow.

I first traveled to the coast with Sam Lenarduzzi to meet with the SCYSA board and present a proposal that would see us enter into a partnership. The ‘Caps have done many camps here before but this would see our coaching staff be present on the coast throughout the year. It would involve camps, schools, evaluation support and coaching at all levels.

Before this weekend Sam Lenarduzzi and I spent two full days visiting eight schools, where we demonstrated some soccer skills and communicated a healthy and active lifestyle. The kids seemed to enjoy our time together and the principals and teachers of each school indicated that it was very beneficial.

I also had the pleasure to be at the evaluations as all the teams were being put together. Being there as part of the SCYSA & Whitecaps partnership gave me a chance to meet many parents’ players and coaching staff and observe the many talented players on the field.

During the weekend many of the SCYSA teams were getting together for the first time, where they met some new players and received their kit for the season. And all the teams were able to participate in a 90-minute training session with our Vancouver Whitecaps FC staff. It was also an opportunity for the coaches to watch and take notes of the sessions provided by our quality staff.

There was good weather over the two days and lots of happy players as they walked away with Whitecaps FC posters and some knowledge of how to improve their soccer skills.

I really enjoyed my weekend working with a number of teams and being able to talk soccer with a number of coaches. It was also encouraging to see many kids turn up with their Whitecaps jerseys, and knowing that the ‘Caps are supported and loved not just in the lower mainland.

I will be back on the coast with our Residency coaches to work with the Rep teams, and I am excited by how well the first year of our partnership has gone. When I was playing for the ‘Caps back in the day we were very much the province’s team. Now with more kids playing soccer than ever before and the commitment of the club to help grow the game of soccer and be an asset in the community, I hope that all British Columbians can feel the same way about our Whitecaps now.