The Whitecaps Kootenay East Prospects Academy isn’t even a month old, but Sunday morning its players will hit the pitch at Moir Park for the first competitive soccer action in academy history.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Whitecaps regional head coach Brett Adams Thursday morning over the phone from Nelson. “[Having] started this process a year ago, who would have thought, a year later, we’re going to be playing two Whitecaps Academies against each other in the same region?
“It’s phenomenal. We’re very happy and we’re very proud of it. This weekend will showcase the talent we do have within this area.”
The Whitecaps Kootenay West Prospects Academy will travel from Nelson, where it is based, to Cranbrook for Sunday’s festivities. The day will feature mini tournaments and matches between East and West academies at every age level, from U-10 to U-18, boys and girls. Teams will also run through a variety of skill sessions with coaches.
This is the first-ever in-house Kootenay Academy games for the Whitecaps developmental programs. It will be a busy day for Adams and the two academies, with matches and training sessions beginning at 10 a.m. and running straight through to 7:30 p.m.
“This is the first of many [competitive matches], we hope,” Adams added. “Whether that be through playing against each other or whether that be playing against other academies or whether that be teams being sent off to various different tournaments. This will be the first of many.
“Don’t get me wrong, it has taken a lot of work to organize it and get it up and off the ground. But I’m sure we’re going to see some great results this weekend.”
Sept. 17 marked the first training sessions for the Kootenay East Prospects Academy, which evolved from the Whitecaps Cranbrook Skills Centre. The Skills Centre was established in September 2013.
There are 240 participants enrolled between the two Kootenay academies. Despite the geographical divide that exists between the two programs, the training module and mission-operative remain the same for all players.
“We follow a structure and a syllabus,” Adams said. “That syllabus, we hope, gets [players] ready to think about the way we want to play.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on just getting the players to understand the Whitecaps way. This weekend is to have a little look to see where individual players are at with that.”
The fall session for the Kootenay East Prospects Academy began Sept. 17 and runs through Nov. 19. The fall session for the Kootenay West Prospects Academy began Sept. 13 and runs through Dec. 7.
The programs will then recommence once the snow melts in the spring.
Whitecaps Kootenay Academies Sunday schedule:
10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – U10 Boys (East vs. West); U10 Girls (East Vs. West)10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – U11/12 Boys Mini Tournament; U12 Girls (East vs. West)11 a.m. to 12 p.m. – U10 Co-ed training session12 p.m. to 1 p.m. – U12 Co-ed training session1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – U14 Mini Tournament; U14 Girls (East vs. West)2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – U14 Co-ed training session3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – U16/U18 Co-ed training session4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. U16/U18 Boys Mini Tournament; U16/U18 Girls Mini Tournament