By Greg Sakaki
The Vancouver Whitecaps are heading to the big leagues, but they aren’t forgetting about grassroots soccer.
The professional soccer club, which will join Major League Soccer in 2011, is inviting youngsters on the mid-Island to play like the pros next month. The ’Caps are holding day camps Sept. 12 in Parksville and Sept. 13 in Nanaimo.
Camp manager Sam Lenarduzzi said Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot has a goal to grow the sport in B.C. and Canada.
“Hopefully we’re going to get more kids and turn more kids on to soccer,” Lenarduzzi said.
Each camp is seven hours long. Children 5-15 will be grouped by age divisions. Over the course of the morning’s drills, youngsters will be further divided by skill level to receive appropriate coaching.
Last year Dan Lenarduzzi was head coach, but the coaching lineup hasn’t yet been determined for this year. Depending on how playoffs go for the Whitecaps, some players may be on hand in Nanaimo to help coach or sign autographs.
The camp is mostly about skill building and fun, but there is more to it – Whitecaps coaches will be scouting the talent. There are opportunities for the very best teenage players to earn a spot in the club’s residency program – a sort of soccer academy in Delta. Even younger players can make an impression.
“For the young kids, there’s a great future if soccer’s a passion for them,” Sam Lenarduzzi said.
Camp cost is $70 per day. Players should bring lunch, cleats, shin pads and a water bottle.
For more information, please visit www.whitecapsfc.com/youth/islandcamps or call 250-729-9400.