VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Wednesday the formation of a Safe Sport advisory board to provide guidance and oversight regarding the club’s Safe Sport policies and procedures, return to play practices relating to COVID-19, and the implementation of recommendations from the Sport Law & Strategy Group report released in December 2019.
“There is no greater priority at our club than the health and safety of our players, families, staff, partners, and our community,” said Axel Schuster, chief executive officer and sporting director of Whitecaps FC. “We have a fantastic group assembled on this advisory board – former athletes, law enforcement, coaches, and most importantly parents. Their input and critical eye will be welcomed to continue pushing our standards.”
The Safe Sport advisory board is made up of a diverse group including internal and external members with experience in various regions in Canada.
- Cal Traversy: former Vancouver Police Department and Delta Police Department sergeant in charge of community policing, high-risk youth & mental health
- Andrea Neil: Canadian soccer icon, Whitecaps FC W-League team captain from 2001 to 2006
- Cammi Granato: NHL Seattle player scout, former United States national women’s hockey team captain, Olympic gold medalist, Hockey Hall of Fame member
- Rahim Z Mohamed: Saskatchewan Soccer Association director of soccer
- A player from the 2008 Whitecaps FC W-League team who wishes to remain anonymous
Cal Traversy is a retired police sergeant who is extremely passionate about youth safety and is currently working with an internet safety and digital literacy education company. During his time with the Vancouver Police Department, Traversy participated in community policing in Gastown; with Delta Police Department, he was in charge of community policing, school liaison, high-risk youth, mental health and domestic violence. Traversy was awarded several department citations for his work in policing, as well the BC Medal of Valor and the Canadian Medal of Bravery. Traversy will serve as chair of the Safe Sport advisory board
“This is an important topic throughout sport and throughout our communities,” noted Traversy. “It’s vital that we all understand our roles in being vigilant, educating young players and their families, and putting in the necessary protocols to let these young people do what they love, and that’s to play the sport in a fun, competitive, and safe environment.”
Andrea Neil is a soccer pioneer in Canada. The native of Vancouver, BC played 18 years with Canada’s national team and six years with Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the W-League. Neil was the first Canadian to play in four FIFA Women’s World Cups, and is an inductee in the UBC Sports Hall of Fame, BC Sports Hall of Fame, Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, Whitecaps FC Ring of Honour, and is the first woman’s soccer player to be admitted to Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame. Neil was one of four former players to meet with Whitecaps FC ownership and share her feedback prior to the Sport Law & Strategy Group review, and supported their appointment.
“I am very pleased to be a part of the Safe Sport advisory board for Vancouver Whitecaps FC,” said Neil. “This is about creating the safest and healthiest possible environment for all young athletes. I am glad to see that the club has taken steps to enhance protocols. I look forward to working with other members of the advisory board to help the club set the bar for Safe Sport practices.”
Cammi Granato, former captain of the United States women’s hockey team and one of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, is a pro scout for the NHL Seattle franchise. The native of Downers Grove, Illinois is an Olympic gold and silver medalist, recipient of the Lester Patrick Award, and also an inductee into both the International Hockey Hall of Fame and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. Granato’s son Riley is currently a member of the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System.
“As both a high performance athlete and mother, I know how important it is to have high standards for Safe Sport,” added Granato. “I’m encouraged that Whitecaps FC are dedicated to meeting and exceeding the highest possible standards for the health and safety of young athletes.”
Rahim Z. Mohamed is currently director of soccer for the Saskatchewan Soccer Association. A graduate of Western University, Mohamed has worked on special topics including coaching children and long-term athlete development.
“It’s encouraging to see how thorough Whitecaps FC have been in evaluating and updating their Safe Sport practices,” said Mohamed. “I look forward to working with the advisory board and the club to continually monitor, evaluate, and update these practices for the benefit of all players, parents, and staff across Canada.”
Whitecaps FC internal members:
- Rachel Lewis, chief operating officer: A leader at Whitecaps FC for more than 15 years, member of the International Women’s Forum, a board member of Covenant House Vancouver, and a former mentor in the Forum for Women’s Entrepreneurs.
- Dave Irvine, head of MLS Academy operations: Canada Soccer A Licence coach, former technical director at Surrey FC and staff coach with the British Columbia Soccer Association, spearheaded BC Soccer’s coaching development program across the province
- Marinos Papageorgopoulos, BMO Academy Centres director & head coach: Former semi-professional player in Greece, Canada Soccer A and UEFA B Licence coach and former technical director for the Manitoba Soccer Association. Marinos directs the club’s nationwide Whitecaps FC BMO Academy Centre network
- Amy Harrison, Girls Elite REX assistant coach & BMO Academy Centres Girls head coach: Canada Soccer B Licence coach, formerly director of high performance & female programs with Winnipeg South End United and video and opposition scouting analyst with Valour FC of the Canadian Premier League
- Paul Thompson, technical programs manager and MLS Pre-Academy assistant coach: Thompson is a Canada Soccer A Licence coach, having spent the past four years with the Manitoba Soccer Association. Most recently with the MSA, Thompson acted as the assistant technical director where he reported to the executive director and was responsible for the General Coach and Player Development programs
- Narinder Dhillon: head of people operations: Dhillon manages the club’s human resources, hiring process, and employee training and relations
SAFE SPORT UPDATE:
Return to Play:
Whitecaps FC youth programs returned to play this week. In preparation, the club worked closely with the medical team and Canada Soccer to develop enhanced health and safety protocols.
- All BMO Academy sessions and Summer Skills Camps presented by Bell are following a no contact policy – subject to local health regulations
- Space in each program will be limited based on local health guidelines. For example in British Columbia, training fields will be split into four quadrants with a maximum of 10 players per quadrant
- Whitecaps FC coaches and a Safe Sport officer will manage all training space assignments
- Before the first camp or academy session for each player, a video call will be scheduled with all participants and guardians to go over new training procedures
- Similar to Major League Soccer team protocols, prior to participation players will be subject to online symptom screening checks, as well as on arrival at the facility
- Every summer camp and BMO Academy will have a trained Safe Sport officer present to monitor the health and safety of all participants, including adhering to all Safe Sport, sanitization, and physical distancing policies
- All equipment will be cleaned and sanitized before and after every training session
- Wash stations will be located at all primary entrances/exits to the training field. Players and staff will be required to wash their hands regularly
- Balls will be pre-set in training grids for all players before their arrival
More information is available at whitecapsfc.com/safesport/safe-sport-return-play-guidelines.
Sport Law & Strategy Group’s independent review, December 2019:
Since the publication and release of this review of its Safe Sport practices, the club has taken steps to implement and evaluate all policies and protocols. Key updates include:
- During 2019, Whitecaps FC created a Safe Sport resources page at whitecapsfc.com/safesport. This includes an updated Code of Conduct and instructions on how to report breaches to an independent hotline. Staff, parents, and players will all undergo orientation prior to the start of any Whitecaps FC youth event, and must review and sign off on the Code of Conduct
- See something. Say something. Signage and information on reporting violations is posted prominently at all Whitecaps FC youth events. This hotline can be reached at 1-866-921-6714, or by e-mail at email@example.com. All players, parents, and guardians are encouraged to speak up if they witness or hear of an issue or violation. Additional resources include the Canadian Sport Helpline (1-888-83-SPORT (77678) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868)
- All Whitecaps FC youth events now have a specific Safe Sport officer on-site, tasked with overseeing and managing all aspects of Safe Sport. Daily safety logs will be tracked at all programming
- Following events, an anonymous survey is sent specifically related to Safe Sport for all parents, players, and guardians to provide feedback, issues, or concerns
- Staff psychologists and psychiatrists continue to be made available to all full-time players and staff at the club, with a further emphasis on communicating these resources
- Whitecaps FC is registered with True Sport and are adhering to all principles. The club will also be participating in viaSport’s Safe Sport initiatives.
For more updates on Safe Sport, go to whitecapsfc.com/safesport.