Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Soccer Nova Scotia have partnered together on a groundbreaking professional development pathway for youth players in the province.
“Nova Scotia have produced soccer talents over the years such as former Canadian men’s national team player Ante Jazic,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “Our aim is to make sure that future aspiring young players have a pathway to reach their potential. We’re very excited to work with Soccer Nova Scotia to grow the game and provide those opportunities.”
As part of the partnership, Whitecaps FC and Soccer Nova Scotia will collaborate on high performance programs, including plans to run prospects programs for boys and girls ages U-13 to U-17, as well as pre-prospects programs at the U-12 level. The top players from the 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 Nova Scotia, 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. Whitecaps FC academy centre programs in Nova Scotia will be led by Soccer Nova Scotia director of high performance Graham Chandler and director of coaching Mike Whyatt.
"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."
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 Residency program in Vancouver this fall.