“Play!” shouted coach Sam Heap, and the 12 to 14 year olds at the Whitecap Castlegar Skills Camp ran forward to play the ball, faking out fellow players acting as defenders.
Next to them on the field, the 11 to 12 year olds performed the same drill, leaping into action as coach Dylan Bennett yelled “Play!”
On the other side of the field, the younger players, the nine to ten year olds, and the seven to eight year olds, practiced different drills, learning other skill sets.
This is the second year Castlegar has hosted a skills camp. The Whitecaps are working closely with Castlegar Minor Soccer Assocation and Kootenay South Youth Soccer Association to put on the camp.
“We’re obviously trying to help grow the game, and promote this area that’s producing quite a lot of talented soccer players,” said Brett Adams, the Whitecaps FC Kootenay Academy Centre head coach.
To further promote soccer talent in the area, the Whitecaps are introducing a pre-prospect centre to Castlegar in September where young players can train, and hopefully go onto a prospect centre.
For now the closest one is in Nelson, but if there’s enough interest, the centre in Castlegar could eventually become a full prospect centre.
Players who make the prospect centre can expect to play against their peers from other centres across BC, participate in tournaments, watch the Whitecaps, and be seen by scouts.
“We have had boys from the Kootenays that have gone on to have full tryouts with the residency teams,” said Adams. “The goal in the next few years is to have a Kootenay player make the residency teams, and then maybe one day produce a professional soccer player.”
The path for girls is slightly different. The girls go through the Whitecaps Girls Elite REX program, which feeds into Canada Soccer’s Women’s National EXCEL Program, giving them a shot to represent Canada in a World Cup someday.