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A coast-to-coast kick-start

On Wednesday, the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer and the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association revealed a partnership that will see the Whitecaps establish a high-performance training academy in St. John’s. On hand for the announcement at the Techniplex in Pleasantville were (from left), NLSA president Doug Redmond, Whitecaps FC director of soccer development Dan Lenarduzzi, Canada Games player Felly Elonda, Canada Games player Alex Murphy, Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi and NLSA director of player development Mike Power.
On Wednesday, the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer and the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association revealed a partnership that will see the Whitecaps establish a high-performance training academy in St. John’s. On hand for the announcement at the Techniplex in Pleasantville were (from left), NLSA president Doug Redmond, Whitecaps FC director of soccer development Dan Lenarduzzi, Canada Games player Felly Elonda, Canada Games player Alex Murphy, Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi and NLSA director of player development Mike Power.

With what is expected to be far greater opportunities for coaching and player development, a new partnership between Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association had a lot of soccer people beaming Wednesday in Pleasantville.

That includes a group of young soccer players who were on hand for a news conference, with 17-year-old Felly Elonda among them.

“I feel like I have a chance to do something better for my team, for my family and for the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association,” said Elonda, an under-18 provincial team and Canada Games player. “I’m just really excited.

“To get to residency camp would be a dream come true,” added the Grade 10 Prince of Wales Collegiate student, who arrived in Newfoundland from the Democratic Republic of Congo six years ago.

At the Techniplex in St. John’s Wednesday morning, the Whitecaps and provincial soccer announced an agreement — as reported Saturday in The Telegram — that will see the storied Canadian soccer franchise open Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy Centre, a high-performance training centre in St. John’s.

It will be one of 17 centres in Canada operated by the Whitecaps, joining 10 in B.C., and one each in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, London, Ont., Halifax and Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“They will emulate what’s happening in Vancouver — the curriculum, the methodology, the training that all comes from our residency program and our girls elite program,” said Whitecaps FC director of soccer development, Dan Lenarduzzi.

“Players in our academy centre are training with the same philosophy, the same badge, same pride of being part of a club.

“They have a real shot of going to a residency program or to a girls elite program.”

Under the program’s model, 30-40 players per gender will be selected to train in the Whitecaps FC academy. The next step, if the player is good enough, would be to move to Vancouver and train in the Whitecaps’ residency programs for U16 and U18 boys and the girls’ Elite Rex (Regional Excellence Centre) for U14 to U18.

The athletes in the program train together and attend school in Burnaby, B.C.

“Players in this program are being developed and groomed for national team opportunities,” Lenarduzzi said.

Whitecaps FC coaches will be in St. John’s working with the NLSA, and staff in Newfoundland to be travelling to Vancouver, “to undergo a training program on how we run our club.

“There is lots of collaboration,” Lenarduzzi said.

The NLSA’s director of player development, Mike Power, said the partnership could open new doors for players in this part of the country who might have gone unnoticed at the national level.

“The partnership will remove any potential ceiling affect because a player will always have access to that next level,” he said. “It aligns our programs with the CSA’s vision of how and where a national team player is produced.

“When I was younger, there was no avenue in Canada to be a pro soccer player,” said Power. “Now with expansion of the pro game in Canada (with the MLS and North American league) and a direct link with the Whitecaps, a young talented athlete — just like they can do in hockey — they can now do it in soccer. They can see a clear pathway all the way to the top.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

 

That includes a group of young soccer players who were on hand for a news conference, with 17-year-old Felly Elonda among them.

“I feel like I have a chance to do something better for my team, for my family and for the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association,” said Elonda, an under-18 provincial team and Canada Games player. “I’m just really excited.

“To get to residency camp would be a dream come true,” added the Grade 10 Prince of Wales Collegiate student, who arrived in Newfoundland from the Democratic Republic of Congo six years ago.

At the Techniplex in St. John’s Wednesday morning, the Whitecaps and provincial soccer announced an agreement — as reported Saturday in The Telegram — that will see the storied Canadian soccer franchise open Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy Centre, a high-performance training centre in St. John’s.

It will be one of 17 centres in Canada operated by the Whitecaps, joining 10 in B.C., and one each in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, London, Ont., Halifax and Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“They will emulate what’s happening in Vancouver — the curriculum, the methodology, the training that all comes from our residency program and our girls elite program,” said Whitecaps FC director of soccer development, Dan Lenarduzzi.

“Players in our academy centre are training with the same philosophy, the same badge, same pride of being part of a club.

“They have a real shot of going to a residency program or to a girls elite program.”

Under the program’s model, 30-40 players per gender will be selected to train in the Whitecaps FC academy. The next step, if the player is good enough, would be to move to Vancouver and train in the Whitecaps’ residency programs for U16 and U18 boys and the girls’ Elite Rex (Regional Excellence Centre) for U14 to U18.

The athletes in the program train together and attend school in Burnaby, B.C.

“Players in this program are being developed and groomed for national team opportunities,” Lenarduzzi said.

Whitecaps FC coaches will be in St. John’s working with the NLSA, and staff in Newfoundland to be travelling to Vancouver, “to undergo a training program on how we run our club.

“There is lots of collaboration,” Lenarduzzi said.

The NLSA’s director of player development, Mike Power, said the partnership could open new doors for players in this part of the country who might have gone unnoticed at the national level.

“The partnership will remove any potential ceiling affect because a player will always have access to that next level,” he said. “It aligns our programs with the CSA’s vision of how and where a national team player is produced.

“When I was younger, there was no avenue in Canada to be a pro soccer player,” said Power. “Now with expansion of the pro game in Canada (with the MLS and North American league) and a direct link with the Whitecaps, a young talented athlete — just like they can do in hockey — they can now do it in soccer. They can see a clear pathway all the way to the top.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

 

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