North America’s professional soccer league has established a presence in the Kootenays and is looking to further expand into the region—specifically in Cranbrook.
Brett Adams, the regional head coach for Vancouver Whitecaps FC Kootenay Academy Centre—based in Nelson—is working on expanding his club’s profile and programs.
As it currently stands, the Whitecaps FC have the Kootenay East skills academy in Cranbrook, which runs sessions in the fall, winter and spring, and Adams is continuing to build on programs to grow soccer in the area.
“We are looking in the next few months, to make this into a prospect area, because we’ve been impressed with the talent that we’ve come across. So we’re looking out to make this more of an elite area as well,” Adams said.
Within the Whitecaps FC organization, Nelson is the only prospect area in the Kootenay region, which features a program that is invite-only for elite soccer players in the East and West Kootenays. Selected players receive professional training from Whitecaps FC coaches and have opportunities to get into residency programs.
The ultimate goal is to get another Whitecaps FC staff member into the region to add further coaching expertise and turn Cranbrook into a prospect area like Nelson.
“We are looking in the next few months, to make this into a prospect area, because we’ve been impressed with the talent that we’ve come across. So we’re looking out to make this more of an elite area as well,” said Adams.
“As we progress the program forward, we are currently in the process of adding to our staff.
“…We are looking to potentially put somebody in this area, part-time, potentially full time. Again, they will be a highly qualified coach that we’re looking to do that with.”
Adams made it clear that the Whitecaps FC programs aren’t in conflict with Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA), the regional rep program.
“The Whitecaps and KEYSA are definitely working together. We’ve formed a great partnership and we’re doing sessions that don’t coincide with their sessions,” said Adams.
“We’re not going into competition. We’re here to work together and we’re here to give them some guidance and support as well as encouraging their players to come do our programs as well.”
Adams identified some local youth talent such as Kru Huska and Peter Black who were recently selected to participate in a showcase tournament down in Vancouver. He also added two boys from the West Kootenays were chosen to participate in the Whitecaps FC pre-residency training combine.
Establishing Cranbrook as a prospects centre will help develop the talent that Adams sees in the area.
“Now, we’re just looking to grow the numbers, trying to pick out the best players, give them an opportunity to go to Vancouver and sample what it’s like to do the pre-residency and residency squads,” he said.
He also adds that if players don’t advance within the Whitecaps FC organization, there are opportunities to pursue scholarships at the college or university level.
Right now, Adams is primarily concerned with numbers and registration for the skills academy spring session from April to July is open to boys and girls between U8 to U17.
“In this area right now, it’s an open registration, but as we look to progress the program on into potentially the next phase, we’re looking at making it a prospects [area], so it will be a tryout and invite-only,” Adams said.
“Right now, we want as many players to come sample our programs as possible, so if anybody wants to sign up, all they have to do is visit the website, and they can sign up via the website.”
More information on the Whitecaps FC Kootenay East skills academy can be found at: www.whitecapsfc.com/youth/programs/academy/kootenayeast. Adams can also answer further questions via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org