Here’s the release (no surprises):
VANCOUVER (Thursday, February 17th, 2011) –Eight founding franchises representing more than 80 per cent of the population of British Columbia will form the inaugural roster of entries in the new BC Soccer Premier League announced today by BC Soccer, its Board of Directors and the High Performance League Committee formed to create the new player development initiative.
The eight founding franchises for the BC Soccer Premier League are:
- Abbotsford Soccer Association;
- Burnaby/ North Shore;
- Coquitlam Metro Ford Soccer Club;
- Lower Island Soccer Association/Upper Island Soccer Association (Vancouver Island);
- South Fraser Soccer Club;
- Surrey United Soccer Club;
- Thompson Okanagan Football Club;
“We’re delighted to launch the new BC Soccer Premier League on the strength of these eight founding franchises,” said Steve Allen of Surrey, B.C., the member of the BC Soccer Board of Directors who served as Chair of the HPL Committee comprised of 16 soccer leaders from the club, district and league level in BC. “We’re excited to welcome the eight founding franchises to what will be the top tier of soccer competition in the province and we look forward to working with the franchises and our membership to build the BC Soccer Premier League into something special for the game at all levels.
“Our spirit of intent is to create the best possible conditions for player development and to support Canada’s national team program and strengthen the game throughout BC and across the country,” said Allen. “There is not a better time to be doing that with the support of strong stakeholders such as the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and our membership, especially given the interest, excitement and energy being generated for the game with the debut of the Whitecaps in Major League Soccer and another MLS franchise scheduled for Montreal next year.”
The BC Soccer Premier League will run a pilot mini-season this fall and launch its first full season in March of 2012, when it will immediately take its place among the major provincial sports leagues in British Columbia. Founding franchises in the new league feature clubs serving players in strong BC sports markets such as Vancouver, Chilliwack, Kamloops and Kelowna in the Western Hockey League and BC Hockey League centres such as Alberni Valley, Coquitlam, Cowichan Valley, Langley, Nanaimo, Penticton, Powell River, Salmon Arm, Surrey, Vernon, Victoria and Westside (Kelowna), along with the American Hockey League hub of Abbotsford.
“The BC Soccer Premier League will have a tremendous reach and local presence built on the infrastructure of the founding franchises and will be right up there with the leading provincial platforms in other sports,” noted BC Soccer Executive Director Bjorn Osieck of North Vancouver, B.C. “As an example, in our inaugural year, the league will cover 12 of 16 BCHL markets and four of the six markets synonymous with the WHL’s BC Division.”
The inaugural roster of franchises was accepted by the HPL Committee and submitted to the Board of Directors on recommendations from a selection panel comprised of Paul Barber, CEO of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Canadian Soccer Association U17 national team head coach Sean Fleming and Paul Mullen, Director of Operations for BC Soccer and former executive with the English Football Association (FA).
“This process has created an excitement for the game in our community and throughout the province and we congratulate not only the successful franchises, but all of the applicants for their time, effort and cooperation in putting forward very strong submissions,” said Barber. “With the emergence of the BC Soccer Premier League and the Whitecaps’ launch into Major League Soccer, soccer interest in British Columbia is at an all-time high.”
The HPL committee brought together a series of key player development principles and alignment with competitive platforms across the country. As an example, the playing season for the BC Soccer Premier League, which will feature divisions of play at the U13, U14, U15, U16 and U17/U18 levels, shall be from March to November.
“We thank the HPL committee members, our tripartite selection panel and of course our membership, which has been very supportive and enthusiastic about what this will mean for soccer in BC and over the long term, across Canada,” said Charlie Cuzzetto of Vancouver, President and Chair of the Board of Directors of BC Soccer. “The BC Soccer Premier League is certainly about the top boys and girls players in the province but by creating a new tier of play, it will also help improve the game for all players at all levels.”
UPDATE: Franchises will be announced via press release at 2pm today. Will be posted here very soon after.
I’ll post any updates here today as we get confirmations about who has been given HPL franchises today. Feel free to add anything you here in the comments.
Note: Surprised no one has mentioned (unless I missed it) that picking Sean Fleming to sit on the panel to pick these teams is a bit of a surprise given he’s currently coaching the U17 National team and has been in Florida for a training camp from Feb 5 to 13 and then straight to Montego Bay, Jamaica for CONCACAF qualifying.
The guy must be a speed reader to get through those 11 applications while preparing for U17 World Cup qualification…