Vancouver Whitecaps FC and BC Soccer announced that Rhian Wilkinson has been named head coach of the partnered Girls Elite Regional EXCEL (REX) Super Centre.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Rhian to the club to lead the Whitecaps FC and BC Soccer REX program,” said Dan Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC director of soccer development. “Rhian is passionate about player development and the success of Canada’s young soccer stars and national team program. She achieved tremendous success during her playing career and will be a fantastic role model. We’re privileged to be adding a terrific coach and educator who will have a profound influence on our talented group.”
“Rhian is a natural fit to lead the REX program here in BC,” said Jason Elligott, BC Soccer executive director. “Providing the best environment possible for BC players is very important to BC Soccer. Having Rhian in this post will continue to build on the good work being done within the program and further strengthens the alignment between Canada Soccer, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, BC Soccer’s Provincial Program and the linkage to the BCSPL.”
Wilkinson will officially begin her new role following the upcoming 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, where she will lead the Canadian side as head coach. She will be aided in the delivery of the Whitecaps FC and BC Soccer partnered Girls Elite REX program by assistant coach Michael Norris and staff coaches Maia Vink and Martin Herdman. Wilkinson will also remain an assistant coach to Kenneth Heiner-Møller on Canada’s senior women’s national team.
“I’m thrilled to be taking on this new role and to be working with quality people who have invested themselves heavily in women’s soccer,” added Wilkinson. “Whitecaps FC have a proven track record of commitment to the women’s game, and BC has been a leader in developing young players. I’m looking forward to continuing to push these efforts forward.”
A long-time Canadian national team player, Wilkinson brings great familiarity to the Canada Soccer licensed REX program, having previously worked as a regional talent manager for Canada Soccer where she made quarterly visits to REX programs across Canada while focusing on player evaluations, course development and quality assurance. Earlier this summer, the native of Baie d’Urfé, Quebec served as head coach of Canada’s U-15 girls national team which participated at the 2018 Concacaf U-15 Championship. Prior to that, Wilkinson was an assistant coach for Canada’s U-20 women’s national team.
As a player, Wilkinson made 181 appearances and scored seven goals with 23 assists for Canada’s senior women’s national team. With the Red and White, she played in four FIFA Women’s World Cups and won two bronze medals while playing in three Olympics. At the club level, the defender played for Ottawa Fury, Western Mass Pioneers, and Laval Comets in the former USL W-League, as well as for Team Strømmen in Norway, and for Boston Breakers and Portland Thorns FC in the NWSL.
Wilkinson steps in for former head coach Emma Humphries, who departed for a new opportunity abroad, while assistant coach Natalie Lawrence headed back to New Zealand with Team Wellington to become the first female to coach a male team in the National Youth League.
“We’re grateful to Emma and Natalie for the leadership and guidance they provided in taking our girls program to new heights and unprecedented success,” added Lenarduzzi. “They helped grow the program from a smaller group of local players, to a highly competitive environment for some of the top prospects in Canada. We wish Emma and Natalie the very best in their future endeavours.”
Whitecaps FC also confirmed rosters for the 2018-19 season, which kicked off last month.
22 players returned, while 16 new players entered the program. 13 of those players joined from the BC Soccer Premier League and BC Soccer High Performance Program.
- Amanada Clauzel (Langley, BC) – Surrey United SC
- Lauren Ebel (Coquitlam, BC)- Mountain United FC
- Jennifer Hashimoto (North Vancouver, BC) – Mountain United FC
- Kloe Jackman (Surrey, BC) – Coastal FC
- Ava Jackson (Burnaby, BC) – Fusion FC
- Isabella Lister (Victoria, BC) – Vancouver Island Wave
- Clare Logan (Vancouver, BC) – Fusion FC
- Syah Mangat (Surrey, BC) – Mountain United FC
- Emma Pascoe (Langley, BC) – Fraser Valley Premier
- Holly Ward (North Vancouver, BC) – Mountain United FC
- Jazmine Wilkinson (Nanaimo, BC) – Vancouver Island Wave
- Ava Wright (Vernon, BC) – Thompson Okanagan FC
- Camellia Xu (Port Moody, BC) – Mountain United FC
Recently, three BC Soccer products – all still teenagers – helped Canada’s senior women’s national team qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Julia Grosso (Vancouver, BC), Jordyn Huitema (Chilliwack, BC), and Emma Regan (Burnaby, BC).
From outside of the province, three new players have joined the program. Both Hannah Duguid and Mya Jones made the move from Calgary South West United and the Alberta South REX program. Ariel Young came on board from Academy Centre partners Ottawa South United and the Ontario REX program, having already made her debut for Canada’s senior women’s national team as a 16-year-old last November.