Children are already kicking while they’re in the womb. Put a ball in front of a toddler and they’ll instinctively try to kick or dribble it. As with education, a child’s physical literacy and co-ordination is completely unique, and so is their journey in sport. It’s critically important for their growth and development that they participate in environments appropriate to their age and ability.
The first entry point to soccer for young players is usually with a local club that provide grass-roots programing, sometimes called “minis” or “micros” founded on Long Term Player Development philosophy. These are small-sided environments that usually take place within the community where the club operates. For a full list of clubs in your area based on location, use this handy “find your club” tool from Canada Soccer. As youth players get older, and reach U13 play, some may also compete for various Youth Provincial Championships, based on their age and ability.
As your child transition from an exclusively in-club environment (usually between the ages of 9 and 11 depending on your region) they may start to experience league play, which involves competition against other clubs (usually within a defined district based on geography). Generally speaking, clubs endeavour to place players on teams appropriate with their development and ability through on-going evaluations.
In the Lower Mainland, the BC Coastal Soccer League oversees and organizes game-play for the majority of U11 to U18 players. On the Island the Lower Island Soccer Association (LISA) and Upper Island Soccer Association coordinates league play from South Vancouver Island to the top. Northern Interior Soccer Association support game-play in the North, with the Thompson Okanagan Youth Soccer League facilitating game-play in the Thompson and North Okanagan.
The Kootenay Rockies Soccer Association support league activity for their region as well. These regionally based leagues are generally broken up into Division 1, 2, and 3 to ensure players are placed in the appropriate level based on their skills, ability, and commitment.
Identified players who are motivated to challenge themselves with and against similar players in competitive league play, generally end up in the British Columbia Premier League (BCSPL) which serves players from U13 to U18 and is the highest level of youth competition in the province, with member clubs requiring a Canada Soccer National Youth Club License to participate.