John Furlong has been involved with athletics all his life. A former Canadian squash champion, Furlong has competed at the international level in squash, basketball, and European handball.
A long-time member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, he has led many high profile sport organizations in Canada. Furlong joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC in April 2012 as executive chair – the most senior position of the club’s executive team.
This comes after his term as chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). From the very beginning, Furlong envisioned that the Games could be a true nation builder that would help improve the fabric of Canadian society.
In an interview with the Canadian Press, IOC President Jacques Rogge remarked at how Vancouver had taken on the Games in a way that was “unheard of in the Olympic movement.” The Games had become a catalyst for national unity, he said, and Furlong was a big part of that.
Prior to his appointment as the organizing committee’s CEO, Furlong was the president and chief operating officer for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation. He became the bid’s international face and key spokesperson, tirelessly clocking more than 1.2 million miles in his travels to promote the bid.
Over the years, Furlong, an Officer of the Order of Canada and Member of the Order of British Columbia, has received many honours for his service to sport.
To name a few, he was recognized by The Globe and Mail as Canada’s Nation Builder of 2010, as one of the top 25 most transformational living Canadians, and was named Canadian of the Year by The Canadian Club. That same year, he was dubbed Marketer of the Year and Sports Media Canada’s Sports Executive of the Year.
In 2009, both The Globe and Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation named Furlong Canada’s Most Influential Sport Figure. Around the Rings Magazine listed Furlong as one of the world’s top five most influential Olympic officials in both 2009 and 2010, and he’s also Sport BC’s Sportsman of the Decade.
For his service to sport in Canada over a lifetime, Furlong was acclaimed as the 2004 Canadian Sport Awards’ Sport Leadership winner. He has also won Vancouver’s most prestigious tourism award for the promotion of Vancouver around the world.
Outside of sports, Furlong has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees in law (2) and technology (1) from the University of British Columbia, The Justice Institute of BC, and BCIT, and an honorary doctorate in tourism and hospitality from Niagara University, New York, USA.
Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Furlong has five children and 11 grandchildren. His book Patriot Hearts – Inside the Olympics that changed a country, became an instant national bestseller when it was released on February 12, 2011 — the one-year anniversary of the Games.
Axel Schuster was appointed as the club’s sporting director in November 2019, arriving in Vancouver following over two decades in Germany with Bundesliga clubs 1. FSV Mainz 05 and most recently FC Schalke 04.
At Whitecaps FC, the Cologne, Germany native is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of the club from youth to the first team.
Prior to his move to MLS, Schuster spent three years as the senior director of professional football for FC Schalke 04. During his time in Gelsenkirchen, Germany with the Royal Blues, they finished second overall in the 2017-18 Bundesliga season and advanced to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League. In his role at Schalke 04, Schuster spearheaded the development and execution of a global scouting department.
Schuster started at 1. FSV Mainz 05 as a youth coach in 1992, which quickly evolved into the role of youth director in 1996. He was named head of football operations in 1999, and in his 16 plus years in that role, Schuster worked closely with the club's head coaches including Jürgen Klopp, which saw Mainz 05 earn promotion to the Bundesliga and a spot in the UEFA Cup for the first time. The club also played in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League under head coaches Thomas Tuchel and Kasper Hjulmand.
A UEFA A Licence holder, Schuster studied law at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.
Excelling as a player, coach, general manager, director of soccer operations, president, and now club liaison, Bob Lenarduzzi has been involved with Whitecaps FC for four decades.
Playing with his hometown Whitecaps FC (1974 to 1984), Lenarduzzi was the North American Soccer League's all-time leader in games played with 312. A key member of Vancouver’s championship-winning team in 1979, Lenarduzzi was the only Canadian to win the North American Soccer League’s Player of the Year award.
Internationally, he represented Canada 47 times as a player, helping them qualify for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. For his efforts, Lenarduzzi was named among CONCACAF’s top 30 players of the past century.
As a player/coach, he won four straight Canadian Soccer League (CSL) championships and was twice named CSL Coach of the Year. He went on to coach Canada's men’s national team from 1992 to 1997.
Lenarduzzi served as the general manager and director of soccer operations of Vancouver 86ers and Whitecaps FC from 1988 to 1993, and 1998 to 2007. In 2000, he received the United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division Executive of the Year award, while he was also a member of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 Steering Committee.
A father of two, Lenarduzzi has been inducted into the North American Soccer Hall of Fame, the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, and the United Soccer Leagues Hall of Fame. In 2005, he received the Order of British Columbia — the highest form of recognition that the province can extend to its citizens — for his contribution to the sport of soccer.
Chief Operating Officer
- Named to the CAAWS (Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport) ‘Most Influential Women’ list (2014)
- Recipient of Sports Business Journal’s ‘Game Changers’ recognizing the intersection of women and sports (2013)
- Recognized as one of the ‘5 To Watch’ at the first ever ‘Celebration of Leadership in Canadian Sport Business Awards’ (2012)
- Named one of ‘BC's 100 Women of Influence’ by The Vancouver Sun (2011)
- Business in Vancouver’s ‘40 Under 40’ award (2008)
She lives in Vancouver with her husband and two young sons.
Vice-President, Finance & Administration
Don Ford joined Whitecaps FC as vice-president of finance and administration in January 2011 after four years with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).
At Whitecaps FC, Ford is responsible for the financial management of the club, including financial planning, reporting, and accounting. He also manages the financial relationships with Major League Soccer (MLS) and the external financial community.
Prior to joining Whitecaps FC, Ford was the director of revenue finance for VANOC, where he oversaw the implementation of all aspects of the organizing committee’s revenue streams. Ford has also worked as a senior manager in the audit and assurance practice for the Vancouver office of PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, serving the forestry, technology, and retail sectors.
Born in Alberta and raised in Ontario, Ford is an active recreational hockey player and golfer. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (honours) from Queen’s University and is a Chartered Accountant and Certified Public Accountant (Illinois).
Vice-President, Soccer Operations
Vice-President, Brand & Fan Engagement
Vice-President, Sales & Service
Director, Broadcast & Communications
Tom Plasteras joined Whitecaps FC in August 2015 following a highly successful and award winning career in the broadcast industry. As director of broadcast and communications he oversees the club's broadcast, communications, community relations and media relations initiatives for the first team. He brings a love of sport and a wealth of experience to MLS soccer.
As CKNW senior program director, with Corus Entertainment, Plasteras oversaw all talent and content acquisition and was responsible for brand and reputation management of the station. A versatile and accomplished communicator, he negotiated broadcast agreements with the NHL, NBA, CFL, and WHL. Under Plasteras’ direction, CKNW was consistently the number one ranked station in the market.
Privileged to work alongside some of the greatest sports broadcasters in Canada, Plasteras was responsible for bringing Jim Hughson back to Vancouver as the voice of the Vancouver Canucks and the hiring of John Shorthouse to succeed him on radio. With partners at Orca Bay he created production strategies and formats for the Vancouver Grizzlies NBA broadcasts.
In addition to his role as program director, Plasteras was vice chair for the CKNW Orphans Fund, and today volunteers as vice chair for Kitsilano Neighbourhood House.
A resident of North Vancouver, Tom and his wife Susan have three daughters.
Director, Partnership Marketing
Director, Soccer Development
Dan Lenarduzzi has been involved in the game, both as a player and executive, throughout much of his life.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Lenarduzzi followed his two older brothers, Bob and Sam, into professional soccer with Whitecaps FC at the age of 18. This made the Lenarduzzis the first three brothers in North America to play on the same professional sports team.
Before joining the team, Lenarduzzi made his way up through the British Columbia youth soccer system with Vancouver's Grandview Legion and the BC provincial team program. In 1979, he led the Canadian U-20 national team to qualification for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, having been named a tournament all-star at the qualifying tournament in Honduras. Other accomplishments include his role as captain of the Canadian side at the U-20 World Cup in Japan, and being a professional player with Whitecaps FC from 1978 to 1982.
In his current role with Whitecaps FC, Lenarduzzi, who has a business degree in marketing and communications from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and has 10 years of marketing industry experience, oversees the club’s Pre-Residency and Girls Elite teams, in addition to other player development programs, and community camps and clinics.