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New Whitcaps Residency Program


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The following is from today's Vancouver Sun. The article doesn't say where these players will play their soccer this winter, surely they won't just train. Will they enter a Men's league, or a U18 youth league, or what? The Residency project sounds promising, but some things I heard from Lenard Bobaduzzi in the past has sounded good only to have turned into hot air and marketing hype with little substance.

Whitecaps start elite youth program to develop future stars

Coach who identified Hargreaves' talent will seek out prospects

Dan Stinson, Vancouver Sun

Published: Thursday, May 10, 2007

In what club president Bob Lenarduzzi described as a "long overdue" initiative, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced Wednesday the creation of a permanent, Simon Fraser University-based residency development program for elite male soccer players in the under-17 to under-19 age groups.

Scheduled to be launched Sept. 1 and continue to the end of the school year next June on the Burnaby Mountain campus, the first residency program will feature between 10 and 20 players who have the technical skills and ambition to pursue professional careers with either North American or overseas club sides.

The job of identifying the players has been handed to Thomas Niendorf, the newly appointed managing director of Whitecaps FC residency. Niendorf is a 47-year-old native of Zschopau, Germany, whose main claim to fame is identifying Calgary native Owen Hargreaves and helping to develop the skills of the current Bayern Munich and England international midfielder.

Lenarduzzi said the Whitecaps will cover all costs associated with the residency program, including post-secondary-school expenses incurred by players signed by the club and who want to continue their education at the college or university levels.

"We won't disclose the costs, but this is solely a Whitecaps initiative," Lenarduzzi said. "We've established a whole network of contacts throughout Canada and the United States in the hope of identifying elite players in those age groups. The selection process will be solely dependent on the ability of the player. The hope is that players will eventually be good enough to play for our [uSL First Division] team or go overseas to a professional club."

Lenarduzzi said he regretted that club side men's residency development programs were not in place in Canada at two milestone points of his soccer career -- in the early 1970s, when he signed with English League club Reading, and during his tenure as head coach of Canada's senior national team from 1992 to 1997.

Lenarduzzi signed with Reading, then of the Third Division, at age 14 in 1970 and played with the team until 1976. He was a loan player from Reading to the Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League from the team's inception in 1974 to '76.

Lenarduzzi's time as head coach of the national team included Canada failing to qualify for the 1994 and 1998 World Cup tournaments.

"I would never have left Vancouver for Reading if a residency program had been in place here at the time," he said. "I took a lot of criticism as national team coach. The question at the time was whether it was the coach or the player development system that was at fault. As far as I'm concerned, it's the system. It's long overdue that a system of youth player development was in place in Canada."

Lenarduzzi's point was underscored as recently as last weekend, when Canada's under-17 men's team failed to qualify for the FIFA World Youth Cup tournament this September in Korea. Canada finished its four-game CONCACAF zone qualifying series with one win, one tie and two losses in games against the U.S., Jamaica, Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago.

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Let's hope it does what it's intended to do...attract the BEST players, not just those who can afford it.

I agree, Niendorf is an excellent choice. It's interesting that the Whitecaps are abandoning the Super Y teams which MADE money, in exchange for a program that will ultimately cost money.

However if ONE player comes through and can be sold overseas or to MLS...it could pay for an entire year of operations.

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The residency program costs the players nothing. I was told that the current crop of U18 players in the Whitecaps dev't program, however, are paying $4000 for this summer's campaign. According to the website, they will play only exhibitions during the summer and then head to a tournament in Europe. That's a lot of pocket money.

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Is this initiative really "new"?

Tony Waiters and Derek Posse have something similiar working in BC:

http://www.passoccer.net/Aboutus_new.html

quote:Lenarduzzi's point was underscored as recently as last weekend, when Canada's under-17 men's team failed to qualify for the FIFA World Youth Cup tournament this September in Korea.
But we won't print the success at the U20 level because that would make the comments and article moot :rolleyes:

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quote:Originally posted by Richard

The Whitecaps have asked if they can play their residentcy program team in exhibition matches against PCSL clubs this summer. Not sure they're far enough along to get anything organised yet.

I sure hope they find somewhere to play during the much longer winter season. They can get some exhibitions game against University teams, but they really need to be in a league, and that may be a big challenge.

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Lenarduzzi was on CKNW last night talking about the residency program. It will start in September and they hope to have at least 10 kids to start, with a goal of 20. It sounds as though they will just be training initially to go along with trips to Europe. He did not say anything about regular games.

An interesting point was that they were down at the Concacaf U17 qualifiers recruiting kids. They hope to have a large portion of the Canadians and they have identified some Jamaican and Trinidadian boys as well. I doubt there will be a large number of Americans because all of the best ones will be in Florida with the US Residency program.

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but the whole idea is to find the BEST kids and sell them after they make their pro debuts with the Whitecaps men.

So that they can come back in a few yrs and thks Lernarduzzi and the Whitecaps by kicking Canadians butt in world cup qualifying.

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quote:Originally posted by sj

but the whole idea is to find the BEST kids and sell them after they make their pro debuts with the Whitecaps men.

So that they can come back in a few yrs and thks Lernarduzzi and the Whitecaps by kicking Canadians butt in world cup qualifying.

Canadian kids should start to try harder to be those best kids then.

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Guest Jeffery S.

You can't develop quality players without them playing quality competition week in week out. So what do they think they are offering? The kids won't even know if the coaching they are getting has any quality or not, as they'll never see it tested in a real competitive match.

This is bogus, sorry. If Vancouver had a decent league, with a few teams at least competitive with the Caps, then these kids would know if their experience was worth it or just a farce. As is, better to stay as a kid playing in an u-17 league anywhere in the world, where at least you will be able to judge your quality and that of your coaches on a regular basis.

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quote:Originally posted by Jeffrey S.

You can't develop quality players without them playing quality competition week in week out. So what do they think they are offering? The kids won't even know if the coaching they are getting has any quality or not, as they'll never see it tested in a real competitive match.

This is bogus, sorry. If Vancouver had a decent league, with a few teams at least competitive with the Caps, then these kids would know if their experience was worth it or just a farce. As is, better to stay as a kid playing in an u-17 league anywhere in the world, where at least you will be able to judge your quality and that of your coaches on a regular basis.

Hallelujah, brother.

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  • 1 month later...

Just read a story in the Vancouver Sun that the Whitecaps residency program has signed it's first two players, both local boys from North Vancouver. Midfielder Devin Gunenc and defender/midfielder Greg Smith. They are both members of the Canadian national under 17 team, and Gunenc has earned tryouts in the past with Chelsea's reserve team and Newcastle United's U18 team. It also states that the residency program will be travelling to Europe next month to play as guests in the U19 Bundesliga pre-season training with top German clubs. Will be interesting to see what Niendorf can do with these players over the years.

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