âI think it’s going to be huge,â said John Antulov, current TRU WolfPack men’s football coach who will step in and coach the Rivers FC men from 2022. âOutside of college, being able to do this. ‘bring that level to Kamloops, and not just Kamloops but the Okanagan, I think it’s going to be huge for soccer in Kamloops.
League1BC will be a semi-professional development league that hopes to attract the best players from British Columbia, including quality amateur players in Kamloops and even players from the TRU WolfPack.
BC Soccer, which pioneered the idea for such a league in 2016, says it has noticed a gap in the sport from grassroots to professional football.
âOur vision for League1 is to create a level of competition that provides players, coaches and officials with opportunities to enter professional environments, into higher advancements in the game,â said BC Director of Operations. Soccer Gabriel Sitting. âWe consider League1 to be a platform that can bring players, coaches and referees into the CPL [Canadian Premier League], a new professional women’s league and our national programs.
Rivers FC will be managed by a not-for-profit corporation with a board of directors. According to Liddiard, it will cost around $ 150,000 a year to lead the team, most of which will go to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
For TRU women’s coach Mark Pennington, the league can be a great recruiting tool for the program, but also allow the current WolfPack to play in the offseason if they are good enough.
âWe can play anybody in this league. Who we judge [can play] at the level will be a good asset for the team, âsaid Pennington. âSo we can have young players, we could have old ones. This will give a good range. Some of the alumni can come back and act more as mentors for maybe some of the younger players. ”
Liddiard says Rivers FC will likely rely on college players, including the talents of WolfPack, in the league’s first two years.
âThe good thing is that he gives us competitive, quality soccer all year round,â said TRU goaltender Jackson Gardner. âObviously towards the end of the summer, we will start the preseason with our [TRU] team, then in the fall we dive into the USPORTS season. It’s just a great alternative to keep us fit all year round. It starts on May 1st, so it’s just a great, high-level thing to have throughout the year. ”
It will take a few years for the Kamloops-based team to develop the skills needed to compete.
One of the three teams announced is the Vancouver Whitecaps, which will have their reserve team in the league. Another team that will play in Richmond is in the process of signing some former Major League Soccer players.