Second annual Whitecaps FC Open Practice a resounding success

Over 1,000 fans descend upon Swangard

VANCOUVER, BC – Over 1,000 keen supporters were treated to an exclusive viewing of a Vancouver Whitecaps FC training session Monday at the second annual Whitecaps FC Open Practice presented by Sport Chek.

Despite seeing their club record six-match unbeaten run come to an end over the weekend, the ‘Caps appeared to be in good spirits as they entertained fans for about two hours at Swangard Stadium.

"Today was a great event,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “It was really good fun for everybody. It was fun for the players, it was fun for the coaches, and it was fun for the fans who came out.”

Throughout the session, fans had the opportunity to mingle with the players – a 30-minute autograph session capped off the afternoon – and get an up-close look at how they train on a daily basis.

Some lucky fans were even invited onto the pitch to take part in a few drills and a penalty shootout with guest goalkeepers Jordan Harvey and Corey Hertzog.

For the most part, it was the players providing the entertainment. But they had some help from Dana McGregor, a former U.S. national futsal team member who happens to be a good friend of Rennie. McGregor wowed the family-filled crowd with everything from two-person cartwheels to soccer tricks with Camilo and Rennie.

It was a day of fun, smiles and laughter for all, including ‘Caps striker Kenny Miller.

"I'm sure when I was younger I would have loved to have went to a session with a professional team and get to meet the players,” said Miller. “It’s always nice to meet the kids and interact with them. It’s a little bit light-hearted and a lot of fun and I hope they enjoyed it.”

Whitecapsfc.com’s Peter Schaad joined club ambassador Carl Valentine as co-hosts for the event, which was sponsored by Sport Chek for a second straight year.

“We’ve had an ongoing relationship with the Whitecaps over the past few seasons,” said Scott Matheson, Sport Chek’s manager of pro sport, partnerships. “It’s just a way to integrate our brand with what the Whitecaps do. We’re trying to create an emotional connection between Sport Chek and getting people out in the community and tie that in with a team that is very important to the Vancouver community.”

From the club’s perspective, such events are important to give back to that community and thank the fans for their continued support.

“I’ve been involved with soccer in North America for quite a few years now and working with people in the community has always been the foundation of any success,” said Rennie. “It’s a big part of what the Whitecaps do.”