Whitecaps FC partner Atlantic Provinces, extend pathway from coast to coast

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today that the club will be extending their development pathway across the country to Canada’s Atlantic Provinces, partnering with Soccer Nova Scotia,  Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, and Prince Edward Island Soccer Association.

“One of our key mandates as a club is to help Canada get back to the men’s World Cup, and to help our women’s national team continue to succeed,” said president Bob Lenarduzzi. “We’re proud to be partnering with like-minded provincial governing bodies to grow the sport across the country, and to help create a professional development pathway for every young Canadian player. We look forward to working together with the Atlantic Provinces to continue to raise standards and provide opportunities.”

As part of the partnerships, Whitecaps FC will collaborate with each province on high performance programs, including plans for prospects programs for boys and girls ages U-13 to U-17, as well as pre-prospects programs at the U-12 level. Players from each province will be monitored and evaluated for the full-time professional club environment in Vancouver, the Whitecaps FC Residency and Girls Elite REX programs. Whitecaps FC Vancouver staff will make regular visits to each academy centre, while players will also have the opportunity to travel to Vancouver for tournaments, to watch first team matches at BC Place, and to be invited for further evaluations. All new programs are planned to begin this coming fall.

Soccer Nova Scotia are home to approximately 25,000 registered soccer players, more than 2,500 coaches, and 700 plus referees. In 2012, former Halifax City Soccer Club and current St. Francis Xavier University men’s soccer player Liam Elbourne was selected to be a part of the Whitecaps FC Residency program in Vancouver, where he played until graduation in 2013.

"This new partnership with Vancouver Whitecaps FC allows Soccer Nova Scotia to create a clear development pathway for our players, from grassroots to the professional level," said Soccer Nova Scotia executive director Brad Lawlor. "We are very excited to work with Whitecaps FC, and for the opportunities that this partnership will create for young soccer players throughout Nova Scotia."

The Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association consists of 30 member clubs from 11 regions and currently boasts a player membership of 12,000 participants. The NLSA is the second largest sporting governing body in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our youth players and coaches,” said NLSA president Doug Redmond. “We are particularly pleased that Whitecaps FC offer opportunities for player development in both male and female pathways. In addition to player and coaching development through the Whitecaps FC education curriculum, the partnership provides aspiring elite players with a clear picture of the developmental progression required to play at the national and professional levels. I commend the Whitecaps FC organization for its vision in extending its programming from coast to coast and enriching the next generation of soccer players.”

The Prince Edward Island Soccer Association has 12 member clubs from five regional districts, totaling more than 6,000 members including players, coaches, referees, and volunteers.

"PEI Soccer Association is pleased to enter into this working arrangement with Vancouver Whitecaps FC," added PEI Soccer Association president John Diamond. "This partnership will provide a clear pathway for development of both male and female players in concert with an established professional organization. Our coaches will also benefit from this relationship from the connection to professional staff in Vancouver, as well their visits to our province. This is further enhanced by the regional developments in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a great day for our association and the development of the game of soccer in our province."

Whitecaps FC Academy Centres are a network of regional training hubs linked through key staff, curriculum, and standards that provide professional supplemental club training for serious, motivated players. Planning and curriculum are overseen by Bart Choufour, director and head coach of Whitecaps FC Academy Centres. The Whitecaps FC academy network currently extends across seven provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and 10 locations throughout British Columbia.

In the past year alone, more than 40 Whitecaps FC youth players have been selected to Canadian national teams. Currently among Whitecaps FC Academy Centre players, London Youth Whitecaps goalkeeper Rylee Forster is a member of Canada’s U-20 women’s national team. On the boy’s side, players from the club’s academy centres in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario were recently selected to join the Whitecaps FC professional development Residency program in Vancouver this fall.

For more information on Whitecaps FC Academy Centres, visit whitecapsfc.com/academy