PEI

P.E.I. teens to get a taste of pro soccer

Four Island soccer players are getting a special training opportunity with the Vancouver Whitecaps major league soccer team in mid-February.

'I think it's a great opportunity just to see what it's like to be in a professional academy'

Colin Curran, Maddy Hurley, Caitlyn McCloskey and Elias Bitar have been chosen to attend a prestigious soccer training camp. (Submitted by Jonathan Vos)

Four P.E.I. soccer players are getting a special training opportunity with the Vancouver Whitecaps major league soccer team in mid-February.

Two girls and two boys from P.E.I. will spend a week at the team's youth academy. 

If they want to continue down that path, they'll have a better idea what it's like.— Jonathan Vos, P.E.I. Soccer Association

"I think it's a great opportunity just to see what it's like to be in a professional academy," said Jonathan Vos, the technical director with the P.E.I. Soccer Association.

About 40 14-and 15-year-olds will be there from other areas where the Whitecaps have partnerships, including Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and Ottawa and London, Ont.

Elias Bitar from the Sherwood-Parkdale Rangers, Colin Curran from the Eastern Eagles, Maddy Hurley from Winsloe-Charlottetown Royals and Caitlyn McCloskey from the Eliot River Ramblers are the lucky participants. 

The Island players will be on the field with the actual Whitecaps coaching staff, Vos noted.

The Vancouver Whitecaps play Toronto FC in BC Place Stadium in June. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

'What it is to be a Whitecap'

"They'll be joining in and learning their types of curriculum, going through a day of what it is to be a Whitecap. They'll do everything from some mental preparation stuff in the classroom, to some physical testing to a lot of on-field soccer stuff as well," Vos said.

Soccer P.E.I. chose to partner with the Whitecaps instead of pro clubs that are geographically closer — Montreal Impact or Toronto FC — because the Vancouver team has a women's program as well as a men's. 

"It's going to be a great growth opportunity for them, and experience. If they want to continue down that path, they'll have a better idea what it's like," Vos said. 

P.E.I. also hopes to send teams to Vancouver for a scouting opportunity in mid-April that is attended by hundreds of college and university coaches. 

While Island youth are playing at a good level, Vos said, the exposure to a professional club "to see what it takes to get to the next level" is important. 

"We definitely have great athletes, a good base of players," he said. 

Whitecaps staff will also visit P.E.I. to work with Island teams. 

With files from Laura Chapin

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