Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Harbour City FC are teaming up to expand the Major League Soccer club’s brand while providing more soccer opportunities for youth on Vancouver Island.
The Whitecaps and HCFC announced Thursday that both organizations are partnering to launch a new Whitecaps FC Island Academy Centre in Nanaimo.
Dan Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC director of soccer development, said the academy will include an array of different opportunities for young soccer players, including skills programs, school academies, prospect academies for elite young players and spring and summer camps.
“What we’re trying to do with our academy centres is not only help develop players but help build the Whitecaps brand and integrate opportunities for Nanaimo youth and for parents and families to come over and watch out games and be involved in Whitecaps programs,” said Lenarduzzi during a press conference at the Port Theatre.
With more than 1,600 members, Harbour City FC, formerly the Nanaimo Youth Soccer Club, is the largest soccer club on Vancouver Island and the largest sports club in Nanaimo.
Liam Roden, president of HCFC, said the academy will provide young soccer players with avenues to take soccer as far as they want to go.
“This partnership with Whitecaps FC is another step forward for our club,” said Roden. “Together, we will not only look to provide additional opportunities for youth in our club, but also to engage all Island clubs and youth with the opportunities this partnership will bring.”
With the Whitecaps entering its third season in Major League Soccer, the club is reaching out to all areas of B.C. to foster a strong soccer culture. The Whitecaps already have similar academies in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions, and are currently working on establishing another in Prince George.
Lenarduzzi said the team didn’t have to look far on the Island to find an organization it wanted to partner with.
“The most important thing to us when launching these programs is to have partnerships and we weren’t just going to come to Nanaimo and launch a program on our own,” he said. “We looked at who is doing a great job and we didn’t have to look much past Harbour City FC and the great work that has been done by the club over the years.”
The Whitecaps FC Island Academy will launch in January and, initially, will run from January through to August with an abbreviated schedule of programs, including a skills academy for boys and girls U-9 to U-12 and a goalkeeping academy. A prospects academy will begin in March.
Registration begins immediately. For details, visit www.whitecapsfc.com.