Passion on the pitch - Maple Ridge Times

Elite soccer residency program 'tough but enjoyable' Maple Ridge's Alex Rowley has recently joined the Whitecaps full-time residency team and since joining the program at the start of the school semester, he has already trained with Steve Nash, participated in the Showdown in Downtown and represented B.C. at the Canadian U16 Whitecaps Club Championships. The love of the game inspired him from an early age to specialize in soccer. "I'm very passionate about soccer and love playing every time I step on to the field," Rowley said. Rowley started playing soccer with Golden Ears - from U6 level to U13 - and then went to the Metro-level playing with Alouette United Soccer Club. While with Alouette, he was captain of the U14 team. He then transferred to Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club to play U15 and U16. Rowley's ultimate goal is to be a professional "footballer" - playing either for the Vancouver Whitecaps, for another North American team or for a European team. Rowley's hometown is Maple Ridge, but because he's in the Whitecaps residency program, he is currently attending Burnaby Central, having transferred from Samuel Robertson Technical in Maple Ridge. Rowley calls the Vancouver Whitecaps' residency program "awesome," which is teaching him how to become a professional soccer player. "The players and coaches are all top quality which makes the program a tough but enjoyable soccer environment for me," he said. "I find the speed of play and the quality of the other players around me is really helping in my development as a soccer player." Rowley and his teammates left for Madrid, Spain, on Sunday to face four U-18 sides including Real Madrid. Rowley said travelling around the world with soccer teams has been one of the highlights of playing soccer at an elite level, but he also enjoys rubbing shoulders with sports greats. "One of my favourite experiences so far in my soccer career was playing soccer with NBA star Steve Nash," Rowley said. "Training, playing and talking with Steve really showed me what it takes to be a successful athlete." © Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times 2009