Academy aids youth soccer
By Ken Manning - Vernon Morning Star
Dan Lenarduzzi likes what he sees at the North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association Whitecaps FC Vernon Soccer Academy.
The Youth Director of the Whitecaps FC says the students involved in the program can benefit in many different ways.
In town last month, Lenarduzzi was accompanied by Bart Chaufour, the Whitecaps’ boys head coach, and David Broadhurst, Whitecaps Technical Programs Manager.
Lenarduzzi, who played nine years as a professional with the Whitecaps, and another two with the Toronto Blizzard, sees the Vernon school program as a good way to expand the number of young soccer players coming into the system.
He aims to widen the base of a pyramid of players, increasing the likelihood of more talent rising to the top. But, he sees the pyramid as having more than one top.
“These players may go on to the provincial team or the national team,” said Lenarduzzi. “They might join our Whitecaps prospects program in Vancouver and become a Whitecap some day, or they might earn scholarships to play at universities in Canada and the USA.”
The soccer academy program is available to secondary students at any of the Vernon high schools. It costs the parents of each student $975 a year. That covers the cost of transportation and five half-day coaching and classroom sessions each week from September to the end of January.
Lenarduzzi pointed out that a little money invested now can pay off big in the future.
“The students have a chance get a good scholarship and we teach them how to prepare for college recruitment here and in the U.S.”
Even if a student does not go on to play soccer beyond high school, Lenarduzzi says the program goes beyond the game of soccer.
“We aren’t just about soccer,” he said. “We are developing a better person, a better student, and a great character player.”
The program, which is in its fifth year of operation, is a board of education-approved soccer skills program and phys-ed program. Parents who are interested in finding out more about the program can contact the North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association at the VantageOne Centre or view information on their website at www.vernonsoccer.ca/soccer_excellence/index.php.