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  1. "I've been in Vancouver probably eight, nine years now," Day told AFTN. "So my history with the club is that I was kind of with the Residency before then I moved away to take another job then upon coming back I was kind of in and round the club and the PDL group last year, and working with Niall [Thomson] and Steve Meadley last year. "It's just kind of dovetailed since then, coming back into the Residency, but it's where I wanted to be. I've wanted to be involved for a long time and lots of discussion with the club." Englishman Day headed back to Vancouver with nearly 13 years of coaching experience under his belt. After spending close to five years as a staff coach with Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Day first came to Canada, and British Columbia, in April 2008 where he took up the role of head coach with Quest University in Squamish for nearly three years. During his final year at Quest, Day also took on the role of Staff Coach with the Whitecaps Residency program for the first time and was head coach of the Youth Prospects sides before moving on to the much sunnier climes of Greece to become the Elite Academy Director with Arsenal FC's first Greek academy in Loutraki. Nice work if you can get! After a couple of years in Greece, Day returned to BC where apart from being a staff coach with 'Caps PDL side last season, he has been head coach of Surrey United's U17 boys and U16 girls teams, technical consultant with West Coast FC and an assistant coach with the Whitecaps Girls Elite Regional Excel Centre program. It's interesting, but not unusual over here, to find a coach that has taken charge of both boys and girls sides, but Day feels what he's learned from his involvement in the women's game has been nothing but beneficial to his own development and in what he can bring to the 'Caps U16s. "As far as coaching the girls sides, it's only as long as I've been in this country I've done it to be honest," Day told us. "I've enjoyed it. I think some coaches are scared of coaching on the female side, but I can say from first hand that there's a lot of things you can learn coaching on the female side that are very useful to use on the male side. "So this has all not been new to me. I've coached professional athletes before at the Junior level, so just really excited to be here and enjoying every minute of it." Day's wealth of previous experience and his existing knowledge of the Whitecaps Residency program certainly set him in good stead for his appointment and allowed for a smooth progression once in situ. "It's been good," Day told us. "Like you say, I've been in and around the club for quite a few years now, so as far as the transitional period goes, it's probably one of the easiest ones that's going to be there. I'm sure that was factor in bringing me into the club. "It's a good group, well it's better than that, it's an excellent group. I think the mandate for me was to try and continue on the work that has been done in the past and try and improve it leading into the playoffs and not really try to change too much. It's a group that's expected to do well and I think part of my job has just been to carry that on." And carry it on he has. The 'Caps U16's finished the season unbeaten in their last five games, winning four of them, as they wrapped up the Northwest Division of the West Conference for the second straight year. They've continued that into the playoffs, winning their first group match on Tuesday 6-1 against Concorde Fire and look to be a good bet to make the quarter-finals once again and hopefully beyond. The players have played a big part in the smooth transition. The current U16 set-up is like a well-oiled machine and plays as a very cohesive unit. The 2012/13 USSDA season had been a tough one for the U16s but one of what can now be seen to be a huge benefit. The 'Caps fielded a very young squad, with a lot of U15s and even U14s seeing gametime. The thinking behind it was to keep a core group together for more than just the two seasons. Grow them together and develop a chemistry and understanding that would reap the benefits on the pitch. The U16s performances for these past two seasons have proved that plan to be a huge success and the chemistry that exists within the squad has made it easy for whoever comes in as head coach. "Yeah it has," Day admitted. "It always happens that way. Part of our job, of course, is to push players up and a lot of the guys have been with Rich in the Under-18s this year. We made a conscious decision to bring those guys back, well predominantly most of those guys back, for the playoffs. "When you're looking for cohesion in the team, the more the players have played with one another and trained with one another, it just becomes more natural to them. It's a very fluid group and we expect that to be a bonus and a strength for us going in to the playoffs." Another big boost for the U16s in this year's playoffs is the ability to draw on last year's experiences. A number of the squad were part of the 'Caps side that won their playoff group last year and advanced to a narrow quarter-final loss. Heartache and disappointment build character for sure and just makes a player hungrier to get that success. With a mix of returnees and new faces to the U16 squad, that experienced from last year will be important to draw upon this week and beyond in the playoffs. "I think it has to be," Day said. "Everyone's got those nerves going in to it, but the more players you've got that have been there and done it, it can just kind of put the other guys at ease. Those experienced players will know the standard, will know what to expect. There's trials and tribulations that are there with the weather, stop-start intervals and all that kind of stuff. We're going to need that experience for the younger players this week to really sort of kick us on. "But at the same time, you've got to also gain that experience by doing it. That doesn't mean that because you're a first year going in to this tournament that you're going to be inexperienced, it's just part of your development and learning. But we see it as a benefit and hopefully that will be proven this week." As we mentioned in our piece on 'Caps U18 head coach Rich Fagan yesterday, all the players within the Whitecaps Residency at the moment now have a clear pathway from the pre-Residency groups all the way up the MLS first team. The WFC2 USL side was that vital missing link and having that team now, and seeing the likes of Jackson Farmer, Jordan Haynes and Mitch Piraux come all the way through the 'Caps youth ranks and into that squad, has given a boost and a generated a buzz for Day's U16 group. "Absolutely," Day told us. "You talk about my involvement with the club over the years and I've watched that grow as well. There is now that serious pathway from being a pre-Residency to making the first team. That wasn't always the case and since I've been here, that wasn't always the case. But now it is there and now it's genuine for these players to believe that they can be a professional footballer. "The USL team in it's own right is a professional team, that plays in a very good, competitive league and that's a good standard. Now, of course, the objective is MLS, but I think it's just opened a lot more doors for many players and they can now see that pathway a lot clearer than they did maybe two or three years ago." And with the talent in the current U16 set-up only likely to get stronger with a further two or three years development in the Residency program, you have to think that there's certainly a few of the current crop who will follow that pathway under Day and Fagan in the coming seasons.
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