VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today that Pedro Dias has been named technical director and head coach of Ontario club affiliate Whitecaps London, part of the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System. Dias will replace Mike Ayyash, who will be moving to another exciting opportunity within the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System to be announced soon.
“Mike’s leadership and achievements in London will not be easy to replace,” said Marinos Papageorgopoulos, Whitecaps FC BMO Academy Centres director. “We needed to make sure we had the right person in place, and bringing Pedro on board is fantastic news for Whitecaps London. Pedro comes to us from our Whitecaps FC BMO Saskatchewan Academy Centre, where as head coach he helped build our successful academy program and partnership with the Saskatchewan Soccer Association. We thank Pedro for his leadership both on and off the field in Saskatchewan and welcome him to his new challenge in Ontario.”
Dias’ experiences both playing and coaching at an elite level, along with his understanding of both the Whitecaps FC club system and the Ontario market, gives youth in the region the best possible mentorship, and helps strengthen the pathway to Vancouver.
The former pro played more than 17 years of professional soccer in his native Portugal, including time spent at Sporting Clube de Portugal and Clube Desportivo Nacional. As a coach, Dias holds both his Canadian A licence and UEFA B license and is very familiar to Ontario, having previously spent seven years as technical director & head coach of the Sporting FC Academy in Toronto, where he planned and executed training methodology in alignment with Sporting CP. Additionally, Dias was a provincial team coach with the Ontario Soccer Association, while also previously spending time coaching youth and implementing academy programs in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, and his native Portugal.
“Our support for our Ontario affiliate Whitecaps London is stronger than ever,” said Dan Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC vice president of soccer development. “We want to recognize and thank Mike Ayyash for his years of leadership on and off the field in Southern Ontario. Mike joined the club in April of 2017 and along with Whitecaps London executive director Cam Vassallo and president and club chair Abbi Lezizidis have built Whitecaps London into one of the top clubs in Ontario. More importantly, Mike’s character and personality helped build and engage our relationships with players, the community, and local clubs to help grow the game in Southern Ontario. We’re looking forward to Mike taking the next step in his career with Whitecaps FC.”
Dias will begin his new role with Whitecaps London early in January, where he will work closely with Mike Ayyash as part of the transition until Ayyash’s departure in late January. As part of the new structure, Whitecaps FC are also pleased to announce that Goncalo Pinto, Whitecaps London Grassroots Manager, will take on the added responsibility of assistant technical director supporting Dias. Pinto holds his UEFA B license and is in the process of obtaining his UEFA A license.
Whitecaps London is a high performance club in Southern Ontario with over 1,000 players, including grassroots and high performance programming as a member of the OPDL (Ontario Player Development League), the highest level of youth competition in Ontario. The club holds a National Youth Club License and is consistently recognized as one of the top OPDL clubs in Ontario. Several players from Whitecaps London have gone on to represent Ontario at the provincial level, and the club is also expanding its programs into League 1 Ontario U-21 Reserves League this season, giving local players a growing pathway within Ontario's performance streams in addition to the pathway opportunities to Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Major League Soccer (MLS).
For more information on the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System, visit whitecapsfc.com/academy.