By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
April 25, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A familiar face will be returning to the UVic campus to help the University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer program. Former Vikes women’s soccer head coach and Canadian national team player Ian Bridge will be joining the forces of Vikes men’s soccer head coach Bruce Wilson for the 2013-14 season.
“I think it’s always important to bring in new people in your coaching staff to see if they can add new ideas and a new set of eyes,” said Bridge about joining the program. “I played 10 years of soccer with Bruce on the national team and look forward to joining him in coaching this season.”
Bridge is a local product, growing up in Victoria and spending his youth soccer days with the Lakehill Soccer Association. He also went tp and played soccer for Victoria High School.
As a player, Bridge began his professional career in 1979 in the North American Soccer League (NASL) with the Seattle Sounders (1979-83) and then competed with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1984. Bridge played 124 games in six seasons of the NASL and tallied 13 career goals before moving on to compete in Switzerland for five years, playing professionally for the FC Chaux-de-Fonds. Bridge returned to compete in the Canadian Soccer League, playing for the Victoria Vistas (1990), Kitchener Kickers (1991) and the North York Rockets (1991).
With Canada, Bridge competed at the 1979 Under-19 World Youth Championship before opening his senior national team career in 1981 in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago. Bridge earned 34 international caps with Canada and scored five goals in competition such as the FIFA World Cup qualification matches, the FIFA World Cup finals and the 1984 Olympics. Bridge closed out his international career in 1991 at the CONCACAF Gold Cup final match against Mexico. The defender was honoured in to the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2003.
“We are very pleased to have someone like Ian joining our coaching staff,” said Wilson. “Ian has played at the highest level both internationally and professionally and he is very familiar with the University of Victoria and our program.”
In addition to his prolific playing career, Bridge brings a wealth of coaching experience. With the Vikes, Bridge was the head coach of the women’s soccer program from 1990-2000. Bridge led the Vikes to two Canada West conference banners, one CIS silver and one CIS bronze medal over his ten-year career. Bridge became the assistant coach of Canada’s senior national team in 1997, a position he held until 2008. In 2002, Bridge led the Canadian women’s under-19 team to the Under 19 World Cup final and led that program to four Under 20 FIFA world cup appearances before he stepped down in 2008.
From 2010-12, Bridge was the head coach of the Victoria Highlanders PDL men’s team, a program that boasts many current Vikes.
“I’ve followed the Vikes program since I left and I know the program and league very well,” added Bridge, who has spent the past few season as the Vikes’ web streaming broadcaster and colour commentator. “When Bruce called me up it took me two seconds to say yes. It seemed like a great fit for where I am in my career and in my life right now. Getting to work with Bruce and with the players that I already know very well – I just couldn’t say no.”