The director and head coach of the Whitecaps’ academy and pre residency program is visiting the region this week and spent Wednesday night with players from Castlegar.
Bart Choufour was paying a visit to Castlegar to check in on the Whitecaps’ new prospects academy.
“[I’m] working with players, working with coaches. Just see[ing] how everything is going over here with the academy centre that’s expanding and it’s very exciting,” he said.
Choufour works out of Vancouver, but since it’s his job to oversee all of the academy centres he travels quite bit.
He’s been to the Kootenays many times, visiting the prospect academy in Nelson.
Asked what he looks for when he visits academy centres, Choufour says, “Are we working the way that we want to work? … Brett [Adams, Kootenay regional head coach,] has been with us for a while and he has a very good grip on what we’re trying to do, and how we’re trying to teach things, and how we like to run our sessions, so I’m sure that will be well taken care of.”
Choufour also looks for high potential players for the Whitecaps’ HPP Program.
“We’re always looking for those, because if there are players good enough in one of our academy centres then they may warrant a trial with us in Vancouver,” said Choufour, “either on the girls or the boys side because we have full-time programs in both … from under 14 on.”
HPPs train with the pre residency team in Vancouver, and go through a rigorous assessment process.
“They’ll participate in a match. We’ll have an interview with them,” said Choufour. “Like you know, we want to know a little bit more what they’re like, because one of the things that we use for assessment of players—like obviously we’re looking at technical, tactical, mental and physical—but we’re also looking a little bit at lifestyle. What are they all about? Do they really live to be an athlete? Do they take care of themselves?”
Choufour joins some of the young Castlegar boys for practice in the Selkirk College gym, passing the ball back and forth with them, and calling a time out every once in a while to give tips and directions. He hardly ever stops moving.
While Choufour has been in the Kootenays many times, before practice he tells the boys that this is a special trip, because his wife is from Castlegar and this time she’s come with him.
“Usually when I come and visit, I come by myself and I stay in a hotel,” he said, “but this time I drove up with my wife because it’s a little bit more of an extended trip, so we drove up together today and are staying at my mother-in-laws in Castlegar.”
Choufour is spending Thursday evening in Trail, Saturday in Cranbrook, and Sunday in Nelson.