A group of young soccer athletes worked with coaches this week in Yukon’s first Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Training Camp.
Athletes trained with Bart Choufour, the director and head coach of the Whitecaps’ academy centres and pre-residency programs and Craig Angus, a program coach in northern B.C.
“It’s been really good,” said Choufour as training wrapped up at Porter Creek Secondary School yesterday. “The players have been tremendous and I think they’ve really enjoyed it too, so it’s been a win-win for sure.”
Choufour was first introduced to Yukon soccer players in April 2015, when he was in the territory for a “goodwill tour” to get acquainted with the competitive program and to introduce Yukon athletes and their parents to the Whitecaps’ development programs and the football club’s philosophies, including working on player habits and positive play, meaning if there’s an opportunity to go forward with the ball, you do.
The Whitecaps currently have training centres across Canada, and while there aren’t enough players in Yukon for its own training centre, Choufour would like to keep making the trip north a couple times a year to continue working with coaches and athletes.
“I think it’s fantastic to have a professional club like the Whitecaps have interest in coming to Whitehorse and working with and identifying talent in the community,” said Strikers coach Jake Hanson. “It’s a fantastic boost.”
He said he could feel the energy and enthusiasm of the players as they played for the Whitecaps coaches.
Yukon soccer is no stranger to out-of-territory coaches. Sean Fleming, the former U17 Canadian national team coach has done camps here before.
“We’ve always had a relationship with top-level coaches Outside,” said Hanson.
While no soccer player from the Yukon has taken part in the Whitecaps pre-residency or residency programs full-time, there has been some participation in prospects residency camps.
Rhys Faragher and Joe Hanson have also spent time training in northern B.C. with the Whitecaps Prospects program in Prince George.
Callum Wood-Ryan also played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy on U17 and U18 elite teams with the Real Salt Lake Club.
Joe Hanson also plays for the Crossfire Premiers ‘03 boys pre-academy team, which plays in the same league as a Whitecaps development team.
Players who took part in the camp are leaving with a renewed energy.
Frejean Pourier, a local 17-year-old goalie, said that it was one of the best camps he has attended. Pourier has travelled to Alaska, the Netherlands and Curacao for soccer camps.
“The coaches were really good,” he said. “They were really one on one with you and they want to talk with you so you can actually understand what’s going on.”
It’s likely the Whitecaps relationship with Yukon soccer will continue to develop.
Choufour said they’d like the opportunity to scout Yukon players and work with them according to their philosophy.
“We want to be Canada’s club,” said Choufour. “Yukon is part of our MLS territory. We want to have a presence here.”