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Building Character The 2019 Provincial Progam kicks off

BC Soccer’s Provincial Program is evolving with the changing landscape of the sport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For BC-born players of the 70’s and 80’s, there was no greater honour than being selected to the Provincial team.  The big “B-C” emblazoned on the uniform represented excellence and the highest standard of youth football in our Province.

The advent of professional environments has changed the country’s landscape, and the BC Soccer Provincial Program has evolved along with it.

In 2012, when the Whitecaps “doubled down” on their Residency Program (now Academy) the role for BC Soccer morphed from a competitive team and competition-oriented set-up to an identification-based model in partnership with Vancouver’s MLS Club.  The women’s game has inspired similar progression, with the introduction of the Girls Elite Super REX Program partnership between the Whitecps FC and BC Soccer.

BC Soccer Development Officer Luca Dalla Pace helps manage the program and is passionate about its many success stories.  The former Provincial Team Goalkeeper says while the structure might have changed since he played, the underlying philosophy hasn’t:

“Because I played for BC, Canadian National Youth team opportunities came my way.  It’s the same for us now.  Our job is to take players and put them under the lights and on the stage for professional opportunities.”

Dalla Pace credits a former BC Soccer Technical Director for helping pivot the program’s focus in 2012:
 

“Michael Findlay was right when he said that if there is a fully funded, professional destination for players, then our focus at BC Soccer has to be getting our players into that environment.”

BC Soccer’s current Technical Director Chris Cerroni is always looking to “raise the bar” in all technical aspects of the provincial game, in order that more British Columbians get opportunities to play at the highest levels:

“The Provincial Program has been designed to support player and coach development and provides on-going identification opportunities. The aim is to have more BC players progressing into higher levels of programming including University, Professional environments including the new Canadian Premier League, and the National Teams.  We also care about those who stay in the game within Soccer for Life. We measure the player movement to the higher levels to see what is working and areas that we need to evolve to improve our programming”.

Candidates for the Provincial Program are recommended by their BCSPL (BC Soccer Premier League Clubs) but can also come from the Metro program.  They take part in regular weekly training sessions with coaches from both BC Soccer and the Whitecaps, and sometimes even Canada Soccer. 

The process is fluid and flexible, being mindful of the ups and downs young athletes experience throughout the season, and there is no charge for the program apart from a one-time kit fee.

Luca Alberti is in the U17 provincial group, and credits the program for exposure to the National team pool and the Whitecaps:

“They put my name forward and I felt ready for that experience because I had already gone through overnight trips and not seeing my parents for a while.  At the Whitecaps, I was challenged to play at right back which was a new position for me, but because I was pushed to try new positions with the BC Program, I was prepared.”

Beyond the soccer-technical benefits of his Provincial involvement, Alberti said there were huge social perks to meeting players outside of his team-mates from Mountain FC:

“It was great to meet new people who I competed against in the BCSPL and I was encouraged by the staff to branch out and get to know them.  Those guys are now lifelong friends who I’d run through a brick wall for on and off the field.”

Aislin Streicek is part time with the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite Super REX in partnership with BC Soccer.  The U16 attacking midfielder, has experienced the ups and downs of joining a group and then being released.  Having continuity from the Provincial Program helped keep her morale up:

“I got tonnes of support from all the coaches after I left the Whitecaps program the first year.  They had meetings with me all the time and having their Monday night sessions really helped me get my confidence back.”

Since then, Aislin realized there was a coordinated approach from all the partners to make sure players are on track to achieve their goals:

“I have support from all the coaches (BCSPL, the Whitecaps, and the Provincial Program) to achieve my dreams, which include getting a scholarship to play in University, and then hopefully carry on being part of a National Team Journey.”

Coaches are also a big part of the pathway, and Delta’s Jasmine Mander has come full circle, as a former Provincial team player to now coaching in the program.  The UBC Physiotherapy Student and Surrey Pegasus alum takes enormous pride in perpetuating the “soccer cycle of life” with her young players:

“I had incredible role models in the coaching pathway and I now see the impact they had on me.  So to actually be coaching in the program is an honour and privilege because you are impacting players who, as elite athletes, usually go on to great things like University and National Team Programs.”

Apart from the dramatic changes in technical and tactical ability since she played, Mander thinks one of the more crucial changes in the Provincial program is the continuous evaluation process that promotes inclusion for late bloomers:

“When I played, you made the team and that was the team for the summer.  Now, there are multiple projects throughout the year where you can add in those players that might sink or swim, but they’ll still get the chance to prove themselves which wouldn’t be available with set rosters.”

Players identified for the 2019 Provincial Program will be on the field in the first week of February, with more than 300 expected to be involved over the year. 

READ: Complete list of Provincial Program Players Phase 2 2018

READ: Provincial Program Coaches Phase 2 2018

READ: Provincial Program 2019 Schedule Females

READ: Provincial Program 2019 Schedule Males

About the Provincial Program:

The Provincial Program is designed to bring together identified players from the BC Soccer Premier League (BCSPL) into training and game environments. The program’s focus is player centered, not team centered and aims to support each player’s development while also creating an overall environment that allows scouting opportunities by Universities, Colleges, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (males), BC REX (female) programming and ultimately the Canada Soccer’s youth national teams programming.  Learn more, HERE: https://bcsoccer.net/provincial-program

About BC Soccer:

BC Soccer is the provincial sport governing body with the mission to govern, promote and develop the game of soccer in British Columbia in a professional and progressive manner. Established in 1907, BC Soccer is the largest provincial sports organization (PSO) in BC and the third largest soccer-specific PSO in Canada with over 150,000 participants.  As a professional not-for-profit society and a member of Canada Soccer, BC Soccer is committed to providing the widest opportunities for existing and potential participants, as well as provide support in the most effective and appropriate way for current players, parents, volunteers, member clubs, leagues, and districts.

BC Soccer is comprised of more than 120,000 registered players, over 2,200 registered referees, and thousands of volunteer coaches, administrators, and soccer leaders. Working with its 40 member Youth Districts and 11 Adult Leagues as well as their affiliate member clubs, BC Soccer operates under the guiding principles of Professional Leadership, Passionate Service and Progressive Collaboration. In managing its relationships throughout the larger soccer community, BC Soccer’s vision is to ensure every British Columbian has the opportunity to be involved in soccer as part of a lifelong commitment to an active, healthy and involved lifestyle.