Soccer fans and players stirred with excitement on Oct. 5 after an official press conference from B.C. Soccer announced that a new league called League1 B.C. would commence in May of 2022.
The league would be considered semi-professional and consist of seven teams across the province. The mission of the new league is to help bridge the gap between professional and youth soccer.
Over the course of the last month, major franchises were announced to join the league which included the Vancouver Whitecaps and the T.S.S Rovers.
Each franchise will include a men’s team and a women’s team.
On Nov. 5, in an official press conference, Kamloops became the latest team to join the party as Rivers F.C was announced as the third franchise to join the new league.
There will be a pipeline of talent coming from the TRU soccer programs as both Wolfpack head coaches have been appointed to coach the new franchise as well. TRU men’s soccer head coach John Antulov will also be promoted as the technical director of Rivers F.C.
“First and foremost, it gives a real platform for young players not only in Kamloops but in the Interior. This is something that we have wanted here for a long time,” Antulov stated. “We’re seeing the growth of soccer just really explode in Canada and we wanted to be a part of that. Being from Kamloops, to see where we are and how we are growing soccer in Kamloops is huge.”
Over the past 10 years, B.C. soccer leagues have dwindled in quality during the summer months. With several different leagues consisting of various levels and regions, it was a challenge for elite players to find a league consisting of high-level competition to further elevate their skills. Players would often have to display huge amounts of sacrifice by travelling across Western Canada to play on exclusive teams competing in American divisions.
The new League 1 B.C. will offer a solution for players to stay closer to home while playing at a respectable level during their off-seasons which will promote their skill and future in the game.
“The rest of the players and I are extremely excited for this new league coming to Kamloops. It’s a way for us to play at an elite level without us having to give up our summer jobs, our loved ones and our lives,” explained Jan Pirettas, team captain of the TRU men’s soccer program. “This is going to be huge, not only for us as players but also for us as a university team. All of our players can stay in town and play together at a really high level. This is going to help us grow as a team and start the season stronger than ever before.”
This news comes at a great time for the TRU men’s soccer team who will host nationals for the 2022 season. The new franchise will help them prepare for a real push at the national competition.
Overall, this new league is a huge step in the right direction for soccer in B.C. After years of average competition, this will offer an exciting opportunity for young players to compete at a very high level while staying close to home. Its affiliation with the university will help grow both TRU programs and add a huge aspect to recruiting, retention and development from within it.