Posted on: Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
VICTORIA, B.C. – Only one short year after creating a women's team, the Victoria Highlanders FC have made the move up to the international USL W-League, starting in the spring of 2011.
Club VP and General Manager Drew Finerty, who recently attended the USL AGM in Tampa, Florida, confirmed his ladies side will compete alongside a pair of other well-known Pacific Northwest women's teams, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders. The Highlanders’ full schedule is expected to be released later this month.
"This is another very exciting chapter in the evolution of our club,” said Finerty. “We have such a wealth of female talent on the island with a great UVic program, a very strong local women's league (LIWSA), competitive youth Metro teams and a large number of young girls playing at Lower Island Soccer (LISA). We need to give these players a place to continue to develop their skills and a dream to play at the highest possible level. The fact our girls academy and prospects team have grown in numbers attests to that."
The club also announced the senior women's team will field a U20 Reserve team that will start this spring in USL's Super-20 League (along with a men's squad). The plan is also to offer a U18 Prospects Development Pool to attract and train graduating youth players to be ready for advancement. All this will be under the leadership of Head Coach (& Director of Female Development) Dave Dew and his staff.
The Highlanders now operate year-round with the addition of the fall and winter Academy and U18 Prospects and expect to announce shortly the continuation of the Academy through spring and summer to ensure adequate training is available to athletes that are serious in taking their game to the highest level possible.
The deciding factor came about with the success of a women's promotional initiative – the "Beautiful Women of the Beautiful Game 2011 Calendar" - celebrating the 2011 Women's World Cup this summer in Germany. The players helped generate sponsorship revenue and the calendars will be on sale in time for Christmas to assist the club in fund-raising.
"We really have to thank our players and the tremendous support we got from the local business community in a very short three- week window, to help make this a reality," the GM added. "I truly believe the local female soccer fans will take great pride in having a team to support at this level. At the same time, we will attract more females to the sport and keep more players at home instead of being forced to look off the island to continue their dreams.
"Our owner, Mr. Campbell, is to be applauded for his continued vision and support to allow this opportunity to succeed. It is another major investment in the sport and I hope the region jumps on board and supports the club by purchasing tickets, advertising and sponsorship to help us bring the only chance for a senior women's international championship to the city."
The club will start making player signing announcements in the coming weeks and months, with the goal of fielding the best team possible to give it a chance to win right away. Coach Dew is in recruiting mode and has a large contingent of returning players and prospects to ensure a very competitive squad.
"I have coached in this league in the past and I know the standard,” Dew said. “Players and our fans will be very impressed with the quality of football at Bear Mountain Stadium this summer," Dew explained. “Training camp will start in April and the league kicks off in May.”
Last season's top scorer, Liz Hansen, summed it up.
"I am very excited,” she said. “We'll be playing excellent competition in every game. This will be great for the community; young girls will see the playing standard and have something to work toward and look up to. The games will be good to watch, too. It's great to see the Highlanders organization putting in time, effort and money to support this development. There have been a lot of people working hard to get support from the community so this can go forward; we really appreciate it."
“We are thrilled about the addition of the Victoria Highlanders FC to the Western Conference of the USL W-League,” said Amanda Duffy, Senior Director of the W-League. “The Highlanders have quickly proven themselves to be a first-class organization in the USL Premier Development League and already have the pieces in place, including a strong coaching staff and an existing core of female players that will undoubtedly produce a highly competitive team in a strong, talented W-League Division. With such talent mixed with a soccer-savvy market and exciting local rivalries, we anticipate great results from their W-League onset in 2011.”
Season ticket packages go on sale December 15 and the club is out in full force soliciting corporate partnerships. To inquire about any of these packages, contact the Highlanders office at (250) 590-8432 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (250) 590-8432 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.