Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Prince Edward Island Soccer Association announced on Monday that they will be partnering on a groundbreaking professional development pathway for youth players in the province.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the PEI Soccer Association to enhance the professional development pathway in the province,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “We look forward to working together to maximize the potential of local players and help them achieve their dreams.”
As part of the partnership, Whitecaps FC and the PEI Soccer Association will collaborate on high performance programs, including plans to run prospects programs for boys and girls ages U-13 to U-17, as well as pre-prospects programs at the U-12 level. The top players from the province will be monitored and evaluated for the full-time professional club environment in Vancouver, the Whitecaps FC Residency and Girls Elite REX programs. Whitecaps FC Vancouver staff will make regular visits to each academy centre, while players will also have the opportunity to travel to Vancouver for tournaments, to watch first team matches at BC Place, and to be invited for further evaluations. All new programs are planned to begin this coming fall.
The Prince Edward Island Soccer Association has 12 member clubs from five regional districts, totaling more than 6,000 members including players, coaches, referees, and volunteers. Whitecaps FC academy centre programs will be led by PEISA manager of high performance Lewis Page, and manager of player development Graeme McDonald.
"PEI Soccer Association is pleased to enter into this working arrangement with Vancouver Whitecaps FC," said PEI Soccer Association president John Diamond. "This partnership will provide a clear pathway for development of both male and female players in concert with an established professional organization. Our coaches will also benefit from this relationship from the connection to professional staff in Vancouver, as well their visits to our province. This is further enhanced by the regional developments in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a great day for our association and the development of the game of soccer in our province."
Whitecaps FC Academy Centres are a network of regional training hubs linked through key staff, curriculum, and standards that provide professional supplemental club training for serious, motivated players. Planning and curriculum are overseen by Bart Choufour, director and head coach of Whitecaps FC Academy Centres. The Whitecaps FC academy network currently extends across seven provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and 10 locations throughout British Columbia.
In the past year alone, more than 40 Whitecaps FC youth players were selected to Canadian national teams. Currently among Whitecaps FC Academy Centre players, London Youth Whitecaps goalkeeper Rylee Forster is a member of Canada’s U-20 women’s national team. On the boy’s side, players from the club’s academy centres in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario were recently selected to join the Whitecaps FC professional development Residency program in Vancouver this fall.