VANCOUVER, BC – On Wednesday, Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced the addition of Residency defender Sam Adekugbe to the MLS roster, the club’s seventh all-time Homegrown player. His ascension continues to show the strength of the ‘Caps development programs.
A little bit less publicised was the increasing strength of another Whitecaps FC pipeline, one that stretches further across the country but is also important in the search to find young Canadian soccer talent.
After a 10-day trial with the ‘Caps MLS squad, Brett Levis has returned to the prairies where he will enter his junior season at the University of Saskatchewan. The fact that Whitecaps FC opened a Saskatchewan Academy Centre in March – the club’s first outside of British Columbia – was no coincidence in the club brining Levis on trial. It was by design. And though he wasn’t yet ready for MLS, Levis appearance showed that the pathway from the Canadian midlands to the West Coast certainly does exist.
“Brett has been in our academy program and university program for a number of years. Now he is being rewarded for all the hard work he has put in,” said Bryce Chapman (pictured top left), who serves as both Whitecaps FC Saskatchewan Academy centre regional head coach and University of Saskatchewan men’s soccer head coach.
“This is proof that what we are putting in place is working.”
Levis and Chapman have worked together since the striker’s ninth grade year, honing his craft at Chapman’s Huskie United Soccer Academy (HUSA), which has now been merged into the newly launched Whitecaps FC Saskatchewan Academy centre. From there, he has continued to play for Chapman at the University of Saskatchewan, which provided him this opportunity with the ‘Caps.
Indeed, this has been no quite college offseason for Levis. He spent the majority of his offseason starring for United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) side Victoria Highlanders FC, scoring nine goals and recording five assists in 14 appearances. His PDL performance, combined with his connection to Chapman, led him to Vancouver.
Levis’ trial was highlighted by his cameo for Whitecaps FC Reserves in their 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC Reserves this past Sunday. He replaced Kekuta Manneh in the 54th minute and played a part in Carlyle Mitchell’s goal on 82 minutes.
While Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie and his staff decided not to extend Levis’ stay, the versatile striker will now take what he’s learned during his trial back to the University of Saskatchewan, where he will be entering his third season of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) soccer. Last season, the Saskatoon native was named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian for his stellar play, 15 points in 14 matches, in his sophomore year.
With registration now open for fall programs at the Whitecaps FC Saskatchewan Academy centre, youngsters across the province have a chance to follow the path Levis has carved.
“It’s fantastic to see a player get this opportunity after successfully going through our programs here in Saskatchewan,” added Chapman.
At the U-6, U-8, U-10 and the U-12 level, young prospects have a chance to develop their skills during eight sessions spread out over four weekends. For the U-14 level, sessions are scheduled to run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with an emphasis on strength training on Fridays while the other two days are devoted to on-field work.
All programs follow the official Whitecaps FC training curriculum, incorporating challenging technique training, speed, agility, and game play. The sessions are led by Chapman.