Good friends with similar Dutch soccer backgrounds, Remco Wijnhorst and Erick Burnet have jumpstarted the TOPSPORT Euro Soccer Academy in Vernon.
The proposed year-round academy has partnership with the Dutch Premier League (Eredivisie) pro club FC Utrecht.
“We will be taking the Euro philosophy and elements of developing the soccer player,” said Wijnhorst. “It’s about soccer intelligence and creating an all-round soccer player through a wider vision.”
The academy will feature three divisions: Premier for the elite 11-18-year-old players; Development for the serious 11-18 players looking to advance higher and Mini Stars for 6-10-year-olds with the focus on individual technical skills and team dynamics.
“There is something for everybody,” said Wijnhorst, scouted at age 11 by Dutch Professional Club SVV before playing Premier Youth League for several years. “We want to bring levels up and make it attractive to play in Vernon. With Top Sport, it’s about discovering there are no limits. We have received overwhelming response.”
The Holland duo hope to expand opportunities and resources so players may reach their true full potential.
“Current limitations vary from short seasonal programs, limited volunteer team coaching quality and abilities, to significant commercial fees and extensive travel commitments,” said Burnet, a 48-year-old father of four who owns Dutch Staffing Company.
“While we respect existing programs and organizations, and appreciate the growth opportunities all these programs have created for the Vernon soccer community over recent years, based on our European soccer experience and as life long students of our beautiful game, we see things differently.”
Born and raised only a stone’s throw from one of the most recognizable soccer stadiums in Europe (De Kuip) on the South shore of the city of Rotterdam, it was all about soccer in Burnet’s neighbourhood. There were six large clubs within biking distance from home and soccer was a way of life, so much more than a game.
He and Wijnhorst– teammates with the Bosman Accounting oldtimers – are running TOPSPORT through connections with former Dutch professional Premier League player and Dutch Olympian, Hans Schrijver.
“Our partnership gives our players opportunities to be assessed and possibly scouted by FC Utrecht professional staff, as well as benefit from the professional support our staff will be receiving in the areas of program and coaching development,” said Wijnhorst.
Schrijver was head coach for the Dutch National U20 Team from 2006-2010 and has coached an extensive list of Premier League teams in the Netherlands and outside his native country. His main passion in soccer is youth development.
Schrijver is currently head coach of the youth department/academy of Dutch top Premier League Team SC Heerenveen and the U19-team. Plans are to bring him to Vernon annually.
Dirk Kuyt (Dutch International, 104 caps, 24 goals), who started his pro career with FC Utrecht and went on to play for three teams, including Liverpool.
TOPSPORT will hold open FC Utrecht evaluations on Sunday, May 10 and Sunday, May 24 at Marshall Field (6-7:30 p.m.) to determine which players will represent the area at the 2015 FC Utrecht National Talent ID Camp in July. Summer programs will run in July and August. Deadline to register is Wednesday.
The academy will bring the FC Utrecht North American Academy to Vernon by hosting the Western Canada Talent ID Camp in 2016.
A European trip is planned for 2016 for U12-18 boys and girls.
Visit topsport.ca or call Wijnhorst at 778-257-8999 or Burnet at 250-309-0758.