Sports

Whitecaps find and develop grassroots talent

Kootenay Regional Head Coach Brett Adams (centre) and coach Dylan Bennett (right) give a Whitecaps cheer with young Castlegar players on August 7. - Jim Sinclair
Kootenay Regional Head Coach Brett Adams (centre) and coach Dylan Bennett (right) give a Whitecaps cheer with young Castlegar players on August 7.
— image credit: Jim Sinclair

Young soccer dreams got a Major League boost during a three-day soccer skills camp–August 6 to 8 at Millennium Park. The camp was operated under the high profile guidance of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

The event was overseen by Brett Adams holder of a long and successful soccer background. Adams was recruited in England by the Whitecaps and moved to Nelson to be the Kootenays’ regional head coach. He said he and his family are very happy with the relocation.

“The Kootenays, as a whole, has embraced me everywhere I go,” he said on Thursday morning.

“We’re running centres out of Nelson, Castlegar, Fernie, Cranbrook, Kimberley, and branching out even further than that.”

 

Castlegar's Emilie teBulte pictured below

 

Adams was asked first about the local state of the game, and the thrill of the youngsters’ connection with a Major League Soccer team.

“Most definitely,” he said of the fun and excitement among the kids. As for the profile of the sport, he said, “I’ve been here since September. In that short time things have grown in the Castlegar area. We’ve worked with Castlegar Minor Soccer, and also with surrounding areas. For us to run our first independent camp and get close to 50 kids on there, it’s a huge success.”

A very detailed plan is being followed to the letter.

“We want to be involved in this area, help grow the game and help get these players onto the next level,” the Kootenay head man declared.

Seeing how Adams and his staff conducted the affair it was obvious why a youngster would benefit from the experience. Different age groups were immersed in fast paced action, the Millennium Park venue and perfect weather allowing the kids to concentrate fully on the instructions of their coaches.

 

Thomas Vogel pictured below

Adams said a similar camp was coming up the following week in Nelson and would include an appearance by a recently-retired Whitecap.

“We’re being greeted there by former captain Jay Demerit, former U.S.A. International,” said Adams. “We’ll invite some of the players from here to come and meet a real live professional soccer player who’s played at a World Cup.”

A couple of players in the 12-15 age group were chosen by their coach, another English transplant, Sam Heap, to field a couple of questions from the Castlegar News.

The first question? ‘What are your first impressions of the camp?’

“I think it’s great,” said 15 year-old Emilie teBulte. I’ve been to a couple of Whitecaps’ games and it’s awesome to be a part of that. They’re playing at such a high level, and to be able to be taught by people who have been around that, I’ve seen that firsthand. It’s just…awesome!”

Emilie started playing soccer at the age of five, and hopes to stay involved well into her adult years.

Twelve year-old Thomas Vogel said professional instruction offers him a great chance to improve.

The strapping pre-teen hopes to stick with the game at least until he’s 18 but agreed that he’ll take things as they come.

“Of course,” he said of the open-ended timetable should things continue to go well for him. “It’s been my favourite sport all through my life. It’s a great chance to connect with my friends, too, because they all play. It’s lots of fun.”

Fun? Everyone was having fun on a beautiful mid-summer morning–living the important early stages of their dreams under the mentorship of high-end coaches.

There was a lot of excitement to go around, including these comments from coach Dylan Bennett of Nelson, recorded as the session at Millennium Park came to a close.

“Awesome. I’ve never had an opportunity like this,” said the 17 year-old who holds a Soccer for Life qualification, which he says is “the highest one before you start being a professional coach.”

The future, as they say, is full of promise. And who knows?

The name on the back of a Whitecaps’ jersey may one day belong to one of the kids at the 2014 Castlegar soccer camp.

 

Cutlines:

 

Kootenay Regional Head Coach Brett Adams (centre) and coach Dylan Bennett (right) give a Whitecaps cheer with young Castlegar players on August 7.

 

 

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