VANCOUVER, BC – After more than 10 years travelling across Europe and North America playing the game he loves, Robbie Tice is coming back to where it all began.
The White Rock native has spent the better part of his professional career playing in Scotland, Norway and England, but his first opportunity to be a part of a professional soccer club came back in 2004 when he was a youth player with Whitecaps FC.
“It was just a fantastic time playing for the Whitecaps back in the [club’s] USL days and back when they had the [Super] Y-League teams,” reminisced a now 28-year old Tice. “I can only say good things about my time with the club and I would say my time playing for the youth teams pushed me onto the next level and helped me move onto opportunities in Europe. It was such a crucial time for my development.”
A lot can change in a decade, and since Tice’s earlier days the club has seen exponential growth at the youth level; now boasting full-time programs across Canada, as part of the comprehensive BMO Academy System for both boys and girls.
“I think the club has come such a long way since I was here last. Just to see how it has evolved from a USL to an MLS franchise, to seeing the dedicated training facility at UBC. It truly gives a clear pathway for any of the young players in the community to work their way up the ladder and into the full-time academy, and hopefully the MLS first-team eventually.”
As the new Mainland Academy Centres associate head coach, Tice will be overseeing all Whitecaps FC BMO Mainland Academies from Sea-to-Sky to the Fraser Valley, including programs at SFU, UBC, and even time on Vancouver Island. Alongside Girls Academy Centre head coach Maia Vink and newly appointed Pre-MLS Academy coach Bart Choufour, the coaching staff will look not only to continue building a consistent program across the Lower Mainland, but also to mentor the young athletes in those communities.
“I think the main thing is letting young players know that they can achieve their dreams, they can achieve anything they want to if they put their mind to it. It’s all about ensuring that they understand what it takes to get to that next level,” explained Tice, as he sat next to the pitch where he would have one of his first training sessions with the UBC BMO Academy players.
“I think I’m in a good situation having gone through it myself, having been a youth player with the Whitecaps. I think I can definitely pass along my experiences to the next generation which is a pretty special position for me to be in.”