The Whitecaps academy helps ensure high-level players are getting all the soccer they can handle.
“I have like six days of soccer a week, but it’s fine,” said Nanaimo’s Ava Alexander, who was recently chosen as the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Upper Island Academy Centre Player of the Year.
Alexander, 13, has trained with the Whitecaps academy since she was seven, and has seen her extra work rewarded – she was part of the Upper Island Storm U14 team that won Island, Coastal and B.C. championships this year.
She said the additional academy training helped her learn techniques that she has been able to apply in game situations.
“It’s just really good drills and good coaching. It’s made me a lot better of a player,” Alexander said. “The drills are really focusing on certain things that will help with certain skills.”
The local Whitecaps academy centre is held at Nanoose Bay’s Arbutus Meadows Equestrian Centre during the fall and winter before moving outdoors in the spring. There will be an upcoming winter intake for players.
“First and foremost we are a supplementary training,” said Kevin Lindo, the Whitecaps FC Academy Centre’s Vancouver Island coach. “We don’t take them away from their clubs, we just offer an extra night of training and a bit of exposure to the way the Whitecaps do things.”
He said the academy offers flexibility. Players don’t have to train there year-round, and might come in and out depending on when they have the need or desire for additional practice.
The Whitecaps FC academy program can provide more than just coaching, as there are some playing opportunities, Lindo said. Recently, 40 Island players went over to Vancouver for a high-potential player identification event.
“We try and provide the young players here a platform and a pathway to get some exposure over there if they would like it,” Lindo said.
The academy is for boys and girls from U8-U18. There is an evaluation component to registration.
“Obviously we’re not looking for the finished article, but we’re looking for motivated players,” Lindo said.
To learn more, visit www.whitecapsfc.com.