If you have paid any attention to my ramblings over the last couple of years, you’ll know one of my pet peeves is how poorly Canadian soccer is scouted outside of the big three Canadian cities. Players from Atlantic Canada and the Prairies often fly under the radar — and I’ve always left too many stones unturned when it comes to finding talent in this country.’
The news that the Vancouver Whitecaps will open a Saskatchewan Academy Centre, extending the team’s developmental scheme outside of British Columbia, shows that there are other people in the soccer biz who believe that, too. The new Academy — based in Saskatoon — will be coached by Bryce Chapman, who runs the men’s soccer program at the University of Saskatchewan.
“We’re very pleased to launch this academy centre in Saskatchewan and are very appreciative of the support from the University of Saskatchewan and to have the expertise of a CIS men’s head coach to lead this program,” said Dan Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC director of soccer development, in a release issued by the club. “The academy centre is excited to work along-side and support the Saskatchewan provincial and national team program. We have a huge amount of respect for what these organizations are doing and together, we will work to help grow the game in Saskatchewan and provide further opportunities and options for local players as part of our professional club system and network.”
It’s important to note that Whitecaps skipped Alberta and moved one province over. For now, at least, it looks as if the Whitecaps are respecting Alberta as FC Edmonton’s territory, even if the Eddies do play in NASL and the Whitecaps in MLS.
According to the Whitecaps, “Whitecaps FC Saskatchewan Academy will operate through August with an abbreviated schedule of programs. The current U-15 and U-18 Prospects Academy teams will run through July and both will attend the Whitecaps FC College Showcase in March in Vancouver. Initially this spring , Whitecaps FC will also launch a U-10 and U-12 Prospects Academy program as well as a Skills Academy for boys and girls U-6 to U-14.”
Saskatchewan has produced Drew Beckie, who just signed a contract with the Columbus Crew after going in the second round of the SuperDraft.