For the first time since the Whitecaps Academy established itself in the Kootenays, the U-16 and U-17 girls are crossing the border.
This weekend they will be playing in the Star Fire Showcase soccer tournament in Seattle, and regional head coach Brett Adams said this is an extraordinary opportunity to show off their skills to the plentiful coaches and talent coaches in the stands.
“We’re coming at this like a professional club. We’re treating this tournament and preparing for it like we’d prepare a professional team, with team meetings, strict dress code. They understand the system of play, they understand what they’re supposed to be doing in possession and what they’re supposed to be doing out of possession,” he said.
“This is a platform to get them ready for the college environment.”
Adams said this showcase marks a transition for his charges.
“This is a key time for the U-17 girls, because next year many of them will be going off to college. So working alongside me, they’re starting to put out resumes to interested colleges,” he said.
“For us it’s about both the experience and looking to the future, but also it’s a chance to be noticed by college scouts and show off their talent.”
Adams said he’s thrilled that many of the players are playing in a higher age category. Some of his players are as young as 14.
“If we’re taking 14-year-old girls now, what are they going to be doing in four years time? The exciting part is we have these years to educate and get them better,” he said.
Meanwhile, the goal for the older girls is to attract attention from college scouts.
“We need to get them watched and get them where they need to be. The team results are not important to what we’re doing, but individual performances are important. They have to go out there and give it everything they’ve got,” he said.
Though the majority of the Whitecaps are from the Nelson area, there are also participants from Trail, Invermere and Cranbrook.
At the tournament, the Whitecaps will face teams from Vancouver and Victoria, as well as teams from Seattle and the surrounding areas. They will play 8 games in 3 days, which Adams said will require Herculean effort from the girls.
“When they get on that bus on Sunday, they’ll know they put everything out on that field, and they can be massively proud of that” he said.
Their next showcase is already scheduled for March 2015 in Vancouver.