BURNABY, BC – After a full week on the road, Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training on Tuesday – and they had some company. Approximately 1,500 boisterous fans descended upon Swangard Stadium for the third annual Whitecaps FC Open Practice presented by Sport Chek.
The event, hosted by club ambassador Carl Valentine, gave fans an opportunity to see how the ‘Caps train on a daily basis and get up close and personal with the team. The players signed autographs, posed for pictures, and mingled with fans throughout the morning – culminating in a lengthy autograph session at the end of the practice.
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“Sport Chek is all about bringing sports to as many people as possible,” said Adam Onysyk, Sport Partnerships, Sport Chek. “So to have an event like this that’s open to the public, where they can see their heroes in a different light is great.”
Some lucky fans even participated in a few drills as well as a penalty shootout with goalkeepers Marco Carducci and Sean Melvin, a Residency graduate, and Designated Players Matias Laba and Pedro Morales.
The Royal City Knights U-11 boys also played a scrimmage with some of the ‘Caps towards the end of the session.
Several players, including Canadian midfielder Russell Teibert, stayed behind signing autographs and interacting with fans long after the training session had ended.
“It was brilliant,” Teibert told reporters. “You see how many people came out to just watch a training session. It stems from the games as well. We have tremendous support in the games. They’ve been the 12th man for us all season long. We’re more than happy to give back to them at any opportunity we get.”
Tuesday marked the third annual Whitecaps FC Open Practice presented by Sport Chek, with the attendance having doubled since the inaugural event in 2012.
“The Whitecaps are awesome to work with,” said Onysyk. “A lot of time they bring stuff to us that can do what we’re looking for and what they’re looking for … and in the end that’s growing the game of soccer in Canada.”
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NEWS AND NOTES
- Whitecaps FC midfielder Andre Lewis has returned from his loan with USL PRO side Charleston Battery after suffering a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee in a July 15 friendly against South Carolina United Bantams. In the coming weeks, the 19-year-old Jamaican will undergo surgery and rehabilitation in Vancouver under the supervision of Whitecaps FC’s sports medicine and science team.
- Striker Marcus Haber, who was a member of the ‘Caps during their United Soccer Leagues days, took part in Tuesday’s training session. The Vancouver native will be training with Whitecaps FC throughout the week.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets, 5-packs, student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.