Sask. soccer players dream big thanks to Whitecaps
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Saskatchewan Academy is bringing soccer to a new level
Whether it's Liverpool or Arsenal, the best soccer teams in the world develop players through Academies. In Saskatoon, the only professional soccer academy in the province is already producing results.
Last year, Major League Soccer's (MLS) Vancouver Whitecaps launched a Saskatchewan Academy.
Regional head coach Bryce Chapman, who also coaches the University of Saskatchewan's men's soccer team, says it's putting soccer in the province on the map.
"Sometimes we get forgotten," Chapman said. "Sometimes I feel we don't believe we're as good as we are. And if we can provide an opportunity for a player or players to get to the next level, I think we're doing a great job and we're selling the game."
Chapman says he's already seeing an impact and you can hear it from a number of Saskatoon youngsters.
"[My goals is] to become a Vancouver Whitecaps player," Mathew Hnatiw said. "And it could come true because of this great Academy."
Locals sign with Whitecaps U-23 team
There has never been a Saskatoon player in the MLS, but Brett Levis may be the man who breaks that barrier.
An all star with the University of Saskatchewan, Levis recently signed a deal with the Whitecaps Under 23 team. He'll join the team in Vancouver this weekend.
"I've always obviously dreamed that I had a shot," Levis said. "In the past two years, it's become more realistic in my eyes."
Levis, 21, spent this week training with the other Academy prospects, some half his age.
"[I'm] Trying to act like a role model for some of these young kids who maybe don't think it's possible," Levis said. "Now they can finally see it can happen, even if you're from Saskatoon."
Regina's Jordian Farahani, who also plays for the Huskies, will join Levis on the Whitecaps U-23 team.