VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC celebrated on Friday the official opening of the Tla’amin Strong Mini-Pitch, and is in partnership with Tla’amin Nation, as well as Hope and Health. The Tla’amin Strong Mini-Pitch is also supported by MLS.
"We are honoured to be welcomed into the Tla’amin territory and participate in the weekend celebrations," said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC chief executive officer. “We are passionate about growing soccer in Canada from coast to coast to coast and this pitch will give an opportunity to provide innovative, high quality and inspiring play environments for the game that we all love. We are also very grateful for our partnership with Hope and Health as they continue to be leaders in our community and truly make dreams come true.”
The ceremony on the Sunshine Coast featured a traditional opening by Elder Dorren Point, an official welcome from Hegus John Hackett, as well as 5v5 mini games led by Hope and Health community coaches.
"These mini pitches are a great addition to the community, our youth will have amazing experiences here," said Hegus John Hackett, Tla'amin Nation. "We are beyond grateful for Whitecaps FC and Hope and Health's generous contributions to this pitch. We're looking forward to hosting tournaments here to build relationships amongst the city, region, sister nations and beyond."
The opening weekend will also include the second annual Tla’amin Hope and Health Community Camp on Saturday featuring Whitecaps FC legend Carl Valentine and liaison of club and player engagement Tosaint Ricketts.
“It brings me great joy to witness the opening of the Tla’amin Strong Mini-Pitch knowing how meaningful the beautiful game is to the community and their ancestors,” said Deana Gill-Georgica, CEO of Hope and Health. “We are incredibly grateful to the all the partners who help us make this magic and are so committed to maximizing the power sport to create real change in the lives of Indigenous children and youth.”
This is the third mini-pitch opening in a series across Indigenous communities in British Columbia. The first two mini-pitches were built in partnership with the Penelakut Tribe in September 2021 and Snaw-naw-as last September.
About Hope and Health
The Hope and Health movement utilizes the beautiful game of soccer and mentorship to inspire hope, as well as improve the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and life conditions for Indigenous children and youth. The team is committed to come together as one heart, one mind to maximize sport as a tool for reconciliACTION in relation to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls To Action, specific to Sports and Reconciliation (87-91). The Hope and Health vision is for Indigenous children and youth to carry themselves with pride and confidence, achieve their highest potential and dream big.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Originally founded in 1974, Whitecaps FC are one of the longest standing professional soccer clubs in North America. Since 2011, the men's first team has played in Major League Soccer, the top tier of professional soccer in the United States and Canada. Whitecaps FC are a fully integrated club, housing one of the most unique soccer development programs in North America, starting from grassroots and including professional development programs for both boys and girls, with a goal to provide a safe and welcoming environment so that all participants can thrive and achieve their potential. In 2022, the club participated in the inaugural seasons of MLS NEXT Pro and League1 BC and is one of the founding teams for a new women’s professional soccer league in Canada set to kickoff in 2025. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com.