When it comes to Major League Soccer, a lot can transpire in one year. One thing, however, that remains consistent is the ‘Caps vested interest in the community. Vancouver Whitecaps FC work diligently all year long to involve players and staff in a variety of community appearances and events. We would like to take a moment to look back on some of the most memorable community experiences of 2012.
The ‘Caps didn’t miss a beat this season, with the first appearance taking place in the first week players were back at work. Veteran goal keeper Joe Cannon joined club ambassador Carl Valentine and Spike on January 25, to promote YMCA’s family literacy week. Together they visited Langara Family YMCA and read to over 75 children. After being on the road for a busy and strenuous pre-season schedule, the ‘Caps also found time on February 29 to wear pink t-shirts and create a positive and inspiring video for Pink Shirt Day, the anti-bullying movement.
April is a special month for the Canadian Cancer Society, who encourage everyone to wear yellow daffodils in support of cancer awareness. On April 27, Daffodil Day, Carl Valentine, Spike, and Whitecaps FC staff members joined many others on the streets of Vancouver asking for donations toward this cause.
Perhaps one of the most memorable visit for ‘Caps players and staff this year was at BC Children’s Hospital on June 17. Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi, head coach Martin Rennie, club ambassador Carl Valentine, ‘Caps players, and Spike visited with and brought joy to many sick children.
July was a whirlwind month in the community kicking off on the with the 2012 MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP contest. Whitecaps FC nominated and profiled Alan Bates, president and head coach of the Vancouver Street Soccer League, the community homeless soccer league. Alan’s nomination was followed by a ‘Caps training session with Vancouver Street Soccer league on July 10. Players from both the men’s and women’s Whitecaps FC teams and Carl Valentine joined the homeless soccer players for a day of skills training and competitive play.
On July 18, Carl led a group of players in a soccer clinic at Grandview Elementary as part of KidSafe Project Society, a program for underprivileged children.
Shortly after on July 21, players helped out and visited with children at the Michael Cuccione Foundation’s Kick for a Cure Childhood Cancer Soccer Fest which raises funds for research for childhood cancer.
Shifting into August, from the 7 to the 9, club ambassador Carl Valentine, head coach Martin Rennie, and several other Whitecaps FC players traveled to Nanaimo to attend the first ever Kw’umut Lelum Cares & Kicks Soccer event. This event featured three days of skills and drills sessions engaging over 200 children from nine First Nations groups in the area.
On August 16, Carl Valentine and four ‘Caps players spent a memorable afternoon at Camp Goodtimes with a group of 15 to 18 year old teens with cancer.
September was a busy month with childhood cancer awareness, however on the 20th ‘Caps players and staff joined many others on the street corners of Vancouver selling newspapers for Raise-A-Reader day.
October was filled with activities for breast cancer awareness month. The ‘Caps showed their support on October 3, sporting pink gear and playing with a pink soccer ball during their match against Chivas USA.
Towards the end of October, captain Jay DeMerit put a spin on the playoff beard by shaving his hair into a playoff mullet His new haircut soon caught on and many other players jumped on board. In support of the players and team, on October 21, during the home match versus Portland Timbers, Whitecaps FC organized barbers to cut mullets by donation and raised over $500 for the United Way.
Moving into November the mullets were replaced with moustaches. ‘Caps players, staff, and fans raised close to $5,000 for Movember, more than any other club in MLS.
Sporting his moustache, on November 15, Bob Lenarduzzi attended Vancouver Covenant House’s first annual Sleep Out: Executive Edition. With his son, and 18 other executives from around Vancouver, Bob spent the night sleeping on the street to raise money for homeless youth in our community.
In December Carl Valentine and Whitecaps FC staff continued to contribute to holiday community events. On December 5, Carl joined the Children’s Wish Foundation Flight in Search of Santa, spending two hours on a plane ride visiting with sick or recovering children and their families, and on December 19, 20 volunteers from the club joined the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau to help pack toys and wrap presents for the many underpriviledged children and families in the Lower Mainland.
Looking back, 2012 was filled with many unforgettable experiences. With 2013 in sight, plans are already in the works for new and exciting community experiences and events.