Following on the heels of the 2018 Premier Development League (PDL) and Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) seasons, the Victoria Highlanders ownership group has announced plans to enter the club into the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s (VISL) Division II League that kicks off this September.
“We are very excited to provide another avenue for local players to develop their skills,” said managing director Brett Large. “Since day one, our ownership group has said we are committed to giving back to the community and the inclusion of a team in the VISL is another example of that commitment.”
The addition of a VISL squad for the upcoming season will create further opportunities for local Vancouver Island players to develop their skills on a year-round basis. Those same players will then have the opportunity to compete for a spot on the club’s PDL squad for the summer months. The team will be coached by Highlanders head coach Thomas Niendorf and assistant Vikram Virk.
“This Highlanders and Pacific Elite Sports Institute initiative to run a VISL Division 2 team provides a much-needed pathway for player development,” stated Highlanders head coach Thomas Niendorf. “Now determined young island players will have an even greater opportunity to reach their soccer goals.”
The Highlanders have shown encouraging improvements in 2018, building on the foundation that was re-established by Marvin Diercks and David Dew. The club saw an increased fan attendance by nearly 300 per cent; an increase in partnerships with local community soccer clubs and the Victoria business community; as well as a marked increase in web traffic and social media metrics across the board.
“It’s important to all of us to help provide opportunities for local youth players in the community,” said Highlanders co-owner Mark deFrias. “As players move on beyond youth soccer, they need places such as this to help them take the next step towards playing in College and the PDL program and perhaps beyond that looking at new professional opportunities within the CPL, MLS, or beyond. We are excited as owners as the growth of the game is clear, and we are committed to growing and building out our Highlanders program. It’s an exciting ride for all of us to be on.”
Tryout dates for the VISL Division II Highlanders will be announced in the near future.