By now, most soccer aficionados in British Columbia and across Canada are aware of the highly successful Whitecaps FC Residency program. However, what many people may not know is that the ‘Caps also run an outstanding program in Southern BC.
Whitecaps FC Okanagan is a regional arm of Vancouver Whitecaps FC and is based out of Vernon as part of a partnership with North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association (NOYSA) on use of the VantageOne Soccer Centre and Marshall Fields. Programs are open to all players in the Thompson Okanagan and follow the same development structure as Whitecaps FC’s Vancouver programs.
“The strong relationship that we have with Whitecaps FC is key to the development of players that are chasing scholarships or professional careers,” said Marina Korberg, NOYSA executive director. “The professionalism provided by the
Whitecaps curriculum, coaches and name has assisted the growth of our sport in the Okanagan. From grassroots to the elite level, program registrations have increased over the past three years of the Whitecaps presence in the Okanagan.”
All programs are directed, managed and coached by Whitecaps FC staff in the Okanagan. Leading the charge is Whitecaps FC Okanagan technical director David Broadhurst – who will be completing his UEFA A Coaching license this summer. Broadhurst spent 12 years coaching with Manchester United Soccer Schools at international coaching project in the United Kingdom, Japan and Switzerland.
“The players are developing well,” said Broadhurst. “We’re confident we can train some exceptional players.”
Also on the staff is Whitecaps FC Okanagan head coach Claire Patterson – who will be completing her Canadian Soccer Association National A license this summer. Patterson spent six years as Alberta Soccer Association’s Provincial Team Select coach and she’s currently head coach of the UBC-Okanagan women’s soccer program.
There are two programs in the Whitecaps FC Okanagan Academy. The Whitecaps FC Okanagan Academy is open to all motivated boys and girls U-9 to U-16, while the Whitecaps FC Vernon School Academy is a school-based academy for boys and girls U-14 to U-18 which offers a formal training program within the school timetable.
“This level of consistent training is not available anywhere else in the region,” explained Korberg. “In the past, players have had to travel or move to the coast for a comparable program.”
In partnership with School District No. 22, both the grade 8/9 and the grade 10/11/12 school programs were full to capacity. This surge in registration has seen the program waitlist players for the first time. The Whitecaps Okanagan Academy program has also seen an increase in registrations, notably in the 9 to 12-year-old age groups.
As part of the Academy, Whitecaps FC Residency staff travel to the Okanagan once per month to work with the players, while Broadhurst comes to Vancouver to work with the Residency coaching staff.
“It’s been great in terms of demonstrating the link between what we do in the Okanagan and what’s happening in Vancouver,” said Broadhurst. “The ideal would be to generate players in the Okanagan who are good enough to play in the Residency program and then hopefully one day good enough to play with our first team.”
The 2011 programs have now wrapped up, but registration is underway for academy programs beginning January 7 to March 10. Visit whitecapsfc.com/okanagan for more information.