While the majority of Whitecaps FC players have entered the offseason, one up-and-coming player on the team has been earning increased competitive minutes on the pitch.
David Norman Jr., who was loaned to Scottish Championship team Queen of the South in September for the remainder of the year, is playing valuable first team minutes, having recently seen a run of five straight starts for the Doonhamers.
“The level has been good so far,” Norman recently told whitecapsfc.com. “Obviously I’ve come over for a new challenge, to play first team football, [and] to do it at this level has been fantastic.”
Having only recently made his first team debut with Whitecaps FC in the 2018 Canadian Championship, the 20-year-old has enjoyed the opportunity to battle it out in the physically demanding Scottish league.
“The pace of it is very different. I’d almost describe it as being a hectic pace, played at 100 miles per hour for the full 90 minutes, which is something you don’t really get in the leagues over in North America. Other than the pace, it is also very direct and physical as well.”
With his feet now under him following an initial adjustment, Norman has been taking advantage of the trust he has earned from manager Gary Naysmith and his staff.
“After a few matches in the reserves, David certainly asserted himself,” noted assistant manager Dougie Anderson. “And after making the step up to the first team, he has dealt with the pace no problem.”
Anderson has been impressed with the young midfielder’s dedication to his craft.
“His attitude in first team games and in training is first class, he works tirelessly. He’s very keen to learn and has a fantastic attitude to his football development.”
Already with minutes under his belt, Norman has seen his game progress.
“I’ve improved my speed of thought and speed of play, just with it being such a fast paced league you have to know everything that is happening before you get the ball. Defensively I think I have improved as well, learning how to read situations better and putting myself in the best position to win the ball back for the team.”
He has also taken the opportunity to learn from senior players on the team such as captain Stephen Dobbie, who leads the league in goals, and midfielder Gary Harkins.
“Seeing what they do day in and day out, and the pieces of information they give me have been vital.”
Another thing that has grown for the young Canadian is his appreciation for the opportunity he has had back home with Whitecaps FC.
“I don’t have the luxury of going into a 30 million dollar training facility like I did in Vancouver. It's great for me not to take anything for granted that I have back in Vancouver. I realize how lucky not only myself, but how lucky as an academy we have had it.”
Going forward, Norman hopes to finish the remainder of his loan strong, ultimately helping push Queen of the South into a playoff spot in the Scottish Championship.
“I think his spell at Queens will have helped his development both as a player and person,” added Anderson. “He’s proven very popular with teammates, staff, and supporters at the club.”
As for the 2019 season, Norman is excited about the hiring of Marc Dos Santos, a coach whose career he has followed.
“It’s an exciting hire for sure,” he noted of the new bench boss. “I think a lot of the players are excited to meet him and start working under him.”
Most of all, Norman is looking forward to returning to Vancouver for preseason to fight for minutes with the ‘Caps.
“I think just taking the experience that I’ve had this past, what will be three to four months, and coming into preseason next year looking to show the new coaching staff the qualities I have as a player, and to try to play as much for the first team as possible.”