WINNIPEG, MB – Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Manitoba Soccer Association (MSA) announced on Wednesday a groundbreaking player development partnership.
Starting in the fall of 2015, Manitoba will be home to Whitecaps FC Boys Residency Prospects and Girls Elite REX Prospects programs. Both will be full-time, fully funded school programs based in Winnipeg that will filter into the professional club environment in Vancouver through the Whitecaps FC Residency and Girls Elite REX programs. The girls program in Manitoba will be an official Canada Soccer licensed Regional EXCEL centre.
“As Western Canada’s MLS club, it was a natural fit to work with the Manitoba Soccer Association,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “Our club has always been determined to be a leader in player development, and the MSA share that vision. We’re thrilled to work together to enhance the future of soccer in Manitoba and build a pipeline to Whitecaps FC.”
MSA president, Peter Muir, commented, “The MSA/Whitecaps FC partnership is the perfect addition to the Manitoba soccer community’s move to a clear and defined development pathway for all Manitoba players. In joining us, Whitecaps FC assure the MSA and its members that our vision of a thriving and dynamic soccer community throughout Manitoba, supported and enabled by a framework that is built on collaboration and partnership and unified in its pursuit of opportunities to grow and develop the sport is more than a dream, it’s our future.”
The prospects programs will run from U-13 to U-17, with Pre-Prospects running from U-9 to U-12. The MSA development structure will also include regional District Prospects Centres and Prospects Camps throughout the province which will feed into the Pre-Prospects group. In addition, Whitecaps FC and the MSA will be launching regional skills camps outside the Winnipeg region for motivated players from U-8 to U-14.
“We are extremely pleased with the success of our many discussions with Whitecaps FC and our Member Clubs to ensure a fully inclusive program that will benefit the players in Manitoba and also the Members of the Association. The future for soccer in the province is very bright and we look forward to generating better programs for the benefit of the players in our province,” indicated MSA executive director Héctor Vergara.
“Our partnership with the MSA will create one of the most comprehensive development programs in our club structure,” added Whitecaps FC director of soccer development Dan Lenarduzzi. “We look forward to working with the local clubs and hope to see more young talents from Manitoba rise through to the professional ranks like current Whitecaps FC MLS players Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese.”
MSA technical director Marinos Papageorgopoulos will lead the high performance programs as Whitecaps FC Manitoba head coach. Papageorgopoulos is a Canadian ‘A’ and UEFA ‘B’ license head coach with experience at the regional and provincial level as a coach and technical director. A former semi-professional player in Greece, Papageorgopoulos has attended Futuro III and Grassroots development courses with FIFA.
“The idea from the beginning has been to clearly identify a pathway and structure for Manitoba players, whether this pathway leads them to stage seven of Long Term Player Development Active for Life in our local leagues, or one day to play for Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Canadian national teams,” noted Papageorgopoulos.
As part of the grassroots development in Manitoba, the MSA have implemented a Regional Technical Infrastructure plan consisting of 10 player development and six coaching development programs to allow for stability and growth within the soccer community.
Whitecaps FC currently have six players at the club from Manitoba, including MLS players Bustos and Froese, as well as Residency players Andre Baires, Georges Mukumbilwa, Ali Musse, and Daniel Sagno.
WHITECAPS FC MSA DEVELOPMENT STRUCTURE