VANCOUVER, BC – There’s plenty of moments that make the beautiful game, simply put, ‘beautiful’.
Whether it’s a thunderous strike into the top corner or a brave diving save to preserve a late lead, it can bring us all together to cheer for the same goal.
However, those beautiful moments can also happen off the pitch by spreading love and joy to the community.
That’s exactly what Vancouver Whitecaps FC players have done throughout the 2023 season.
With the help of Liaison of Player and Club Engagement Tosaint Ricketts, the ‘Caps were able to invite diverse organizations to home matches at BC Place through the clubs Player Ticket Initiative program.
The players invited roughly 450 people from a number of local organizations to matches over the course of the season, investing over $45,000.
“It’s the players purchasing tickets, essentially investing in themselves and picking the organization that comes out as well,” explained Ricketts. “It’s special, it’s a great experience for the organizations and the people but it’s also genuine and organic, which is nice. Making it a great way to connect with the community, with the players going out there, selecting organizations that resonate with them and providing them essentially a unique Whitecaps experience.”
For each match, a different organization picked by the players gets to fill out the allocated number of seats purchased by the team.
“It’s extremely important to find a way to give back to the community that’s meaningful to you as a player,” said Russell Teibert, who invited students from Grandview ¿uuqinak'uuh Elementary School.
“I remember what it was like being a kid in elementary school and always wanting to go to a professional game, I know a lot of kids dream of becoming professional athletes so to give them a glimpse of what it looks like, to go as a class, and to share that experience together as a school is a memory that will last for years and years to come. Even though the game lasts 90 minutes, that memory will last much longer.”
Teibert also invited families from the Indigenous community Penelakut Tribe.
Meanwhile, given his love for pets, Ryan Gauld invited the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) as well as Covenant House Vancouver.
“It’s great to be able to connect with the community and provide them the opportunity to experience the match action,” said Gauld. “My fiancé, Katherine and I really love dogs, we try to help the shelter as much as possible with the ticket initiative program it’s a great way to give back to show their work doesn’t go unnoticed. I’m also a big supporter of the work the Covenant House in Vancouver does to help youths off the streets, these are two organizations of many that are making a big impact.”
Tristan Blackmon and Mathías Laborda also chose to invite Covenant House.
Even head coach Vanni Sartini and assistant coach Michael D’Agostino wanted to get involved, choosing to go with their roots by inviting Vancouver's Consulate General of Italy.
“I was honoured to be able to have them come for a match this year, they took pictures with me at the end of the game and everyone was really happy,” said Sartini, "It's one way for us to connect with the city, it's one way to expose ourselves to people that may not know the Whitecaps so hopefully they enjoyed the experience."
“As an Italian Canadian, I wanted to make a connection to this community through the club for an organization that is historic in Vancouver,” said D’Agostino, “It’s fantastic creating this relationship with Italian fans, who may not have come to a Whitecaps game previously, but knowing they have representation through myself and Vanni creates a cohesiveness between the club and the Italian community.”
Other players participating in the initiative include Ali Ahmed (Ethos Lab), Simon Becher (United Native Youth Association), Sebastian Berhalter (B.C. Centre on Substance Use & St. Paul’s Hospital), Isaac Boehmer (United Native Youth Association), Javain Brown (Ethos Lab), Thomas Hasal (B.C. Centre on Substance Use & St. Paul’s Hospital), Levonte Johnson (Ethos Lab), J.C. Ngando (Ethos Lab), Ryan Raposo (Hon Hsing Athletic Club of Vancouver), Yohei Takaoka (Drive Motor Sports), and Brian White (Drive Motor Sports). Former first team assistant coach Florian Jungwirth also invited the BC SPCA.
Be sure to catch the 'Caps in action as they look to even up their MLS Cup Playoffs Round One Best-of-3 Series against Los Angeles FC on Sunday, November 5 at BC Place. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. PT. The match will mark the first time the 'Caps host a playoff match at home since 2017. The Blue and White will be making some history on Sunday, with the upper bowl of BC Place set to be open for the first time in the club's MLS history. More than 26,000 tickets have already been sold as the club record nears for attendance at an MLS match. Limited tickets are still available at www.whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
The 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs are coming to BC Place!
We'll be taking on LAFC in Round 1 Match 2 of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.