Highlanders Announce July Move
Posted on: Thursday, March 31, 2011
Victoria BC - The Victoria Highlanders FC's continued growth and expansion along with some scheduling conflicts at Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford has created the need for the club to play half their 2011 season at the downtown Victoria Royal Athletic Park (RAP) this summer.
Formed in 2008 by visionary soccer enthusiast and local entrepreneur Alex D. Campbell, the Highlanders started out as one USL team beginning play in the Premier Development League in 2009. The long term plan for Campbell was to build out a development program providing soccer players on the island a place to hone their skills and move their game to a new level without needing to leave home. The club’s first partner, Coast Capital Savings and their Community & Sponsorship Director Gerry Eaton believed in Campbell’s dream and came on as the Title Partner to help foster growth and development of boys and girls, men and women under the Highlander banner. “From the beginning the great people of Coast Capital got behind the idea and have been instrumental in ensuring the support and resources to create the plan”, recalls Campbell.
The next step in the plan was to introduce a women’s program in order to engage young females, who make up nearly 50% of soccer registration on the island, and start a high profile Women’s team. In 2010 the Women’s team was formed and played in the Pacific Coast Soccer League, replacing the former Victoria Stars. Later that year, the club made the decision to move the team up to the more competitive and national USL W-League for the 2011 season. Subsequently, both teams formed reserve and prospects sides to support the first teams with an in-house “farm system”. One final piece to the plan was required to make the Highlanders program link between youth and senior players…a training Academy where young islanders could be identified and trained to achieve their football goals.
After the 2010 season the HIGHLANDERS ACADEMY was implemented in September and in the first year over 140 boys and girls from U13 – U18 were training under the watchful eye of Development Directors Steve Simonson (male) and Dave Dew (female). A goalkeeping academy, IKC (Island Keeper Clinics) operated by Club Goalkeeper Consultant and the Highlanders Goalkeeper Coach, Bob Stankov was added to round out the program. In April this year, the club will be introducing a new Academy Director that will lead the on and off field directions of the academy making it one of the top academies in the country. Age groups will be expanded starting at U9 this spring to identify young players that will one day be considered Highlander potentials. The goal is to produce players for the PDL and W-League teams but also to move on players to college, university, professional and national team opportunities. Affiliations with the local district, Lower Island Soccer Association (LISA), Juan de Fuca Youth Soccer and others will be coming on board in 2011 will help support the club with ticket sales; and have the opportunity for Coaching services provided by the Highlander Coaches and Players for their teams. The recent addition of the Mid Isle Highlanders (PCSL) allows the club’s footprint to move north to Nanaimo and the surrounding areas that will bring more players into the system.
The Club’s continued growth (now at 8 teams + Academy enrolment) and training requirements, along with the start of the Westshore Rebels football team in July has meant overcrowding at Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford, resulting in the PDL team having to move their games and training sessions for the month to (RAP).
“We really appreciate all Langford has done to help us build our program over the past three years and offer one of the finest little stadiums in the PDL and W-League, but it has become un-workable to book the required training times we need for all these teams, explained Highlanders GM Drew Finerty. The City of Victoria has been wonderful in helping us to make this work and have worked hard to allow us to make some temporary improvements to offer our fans and partners the same atmosphere they are accustomed to at Highlander’s matches.”
Recreating the atmosphere and providing ticketing services will be two of the challenges the club will work on over the next 60-90 days in order to keep the energy and convenience of both fans and sponsors. Supporters will notice a few in-stadium differences from the last time they visited RAP and it is expected the alterations will add to the experience.
“The ball diamond is being removed and additional food and beverage will be provided along with some other hospitality improvements to enhance our game day presentation. We now will be able to accommodate close to 3000 fans at RAP. This will also be tremendous when we host British League 2 Club PORT VALE on July 21st as they prefer to play on natural grass, which RAP has. We also need to thank our friends over at Victoria United who generously allowed us to reschedule two of their PCSL dates that were in conflict. They will play those two games at Hampton Park in Saanich”, concluded Finerty.
The Highlanders also introduced their new Mascot, who will be named the first week of April after a month long in-school, website and newspaper coloring & name-the-mascot contest wraps us this week. The friendly Scottish Sheepdog (Border Collie) will have a presence in the region at schools, youth clubs, community and business events. (See attached bio)…15 year old Bryan Taylor from the Highlanders Academy and U18 Prospects teams has been appointed to the BC Provincial team and will train with our club and the BC team on the mainland this summer…Important Dates to remember:
April 2 - Prospects vs Gunners - U21 Cup Noon RAP
April 5 – Local First, Reserves an Prospects players report to PDL training camp
April 11/12 – Open Trials for W-League prospects
April 20 – Local, Reserves and Prospects players report to W-League training camp
April 25 – Recruits and Imports report to PDL and W-League training camp
May 1- PDL and W-League Exhibition Double-Header (to be confirmed)