North Van FC has taken its first shots at the highest level of youth soccer in the province, with new elite boys and girls teams debuting this month.
NVFC has partnered with the North Shore Girls Soccer Club and West Van FC to place one boys team and one girls team into the U13 Intake division of the B.C. Soccer Premier League, an elite circuit that includes top squads from 12 clubs across the province. The plan is to start at the U13 level and add new NVFC squads each year until the North Vancouver club has a full complement of teams in the BCSPL from U13 to U18.
The new plan provides a significant change in the pathway for top-level players from the North Shore. Previously, the best NVFC, WVFC and NSGSC players would move away from those clubs at the U13 level to join Mountain United FC, an original BCSPL club that was based jointly in Burnaby and on the North Shore.
“We’ve always been shuffling off our top U13s because we didn’t have this level,” said NVFC technical director Steve Kindel. “Now we don’t have to send them away because we have access to that level of programming. … Now it’s all in. You don’t have to leave the club, it’s all in-house.”
NVFC will now be going head-to-head against Mountain United, as well as other long-standing BCSPL clubs that include Surrey United, Coquitlam Metro-Ford SC, Van Isle Wave and Thompson Okanagan FC.
The new initiative has also created a unique partnership between NVFC and NSGSC. Traditionally, NVFC has provided programming for boys in North Vancouver, although girls are free to play in the club, while NSGSC provides programming for girls. When NVFC made the move to join the BCSPL, however, they learned that all clubs entering the province’s top league need to enter both boys and girls teams. That’s when NSGSC was brought on board – the longstanding girls club will be involved in forming the elite girls teams that will play under the NVFC banner in the BCSPL, while the two clubs will continue to provide separate programming for boys and girls at all other levels.
West Van FC has also been instrumental in getting the new teams up and running, said Kindel.
"They were great participants in both the boys and girls team selections," he said. "Their technical director, Leo Nash, and their staff were very professional and progressive thinking. The roster composition was definitely stronger with West Van's co-operation and contributions."
The two new NVFC expansion teams have already shown well, facing some of the best clubs in the province. Both the boys and girls teams made the final of the prestigious SX Cup in Surrey over the Labour Day weekend, and both have begun play in the BCSPL U13 Intake division, with the boys picking up a win and a tie in their first two games and the girls registering a draw in their first league game (after picking up three points in a forfeit win to open the season).
Both teams will have home games this weekend against Fusion FC at Fen Burdett Stadium, with the boys kicking off at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 25) and the girls playing at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday (Sept. 26).
Next March, the two U13 Intake teams (made up of players born in 2009) will move up to the regular BCSPL U13 league, and the next age cohort (2010 players) will join the league, representing NVFC in the U13 Intake division next fall.
By the time the club has filled every division up to the U18 level, Kindel is counting on NVFC having a system in place that will allow talented players to train and compete with North Van teams their whole lives, graduating from the youth system to adult and masters teams associated with the club.
“NVFC and NorVan have a long history in the men’s divisions,” said Kindel, adding that NVFC’s new elite youth teams will provide players for local premier men’s teams. “So instead of sending our top kids elsewhere and then maybe they don’t come back … they can graduate in the NorVan men’s teams program.”
Full BCSPL schedules can be found here.
NVFC’s premier men’s team will also play their home opener this weekend, hosting MAFC at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 25) at Fen Burdett Stadium. The team’s full schedule for the Vancouver Metro Soccer League can be found here.
Note: This article has been amended to include contributions from West Vancouver FC.