Bart Choufour is “always” on the hunt for young talent.
The director and head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps Youth Prospect Camp wants to improve the quality of soccer in Yukon and if he can scout a few players in the process, that’s fine by him.
Choufour headed a four-day camp in Whitehorse this week, ending Wednesday in Porter Creek.
“There’s definitely very good players,” said Choufour. “What we’ve particularly enjoyed it the attitude of the players. They have a lot of resilience, they work extremely hard. I think in the four days we’ve made some really good steps with them. There’s definitely some really good talent here and they train with the right attitude.
“So somebody or some people have done some good things here for sure.”
About 40 of Yukon’s top young players took part in the Whitecaps camp that is part of the Major League Soccer team’s youth program.
Choufour first came to Yukon a couple of years ago to hold a camp and obviously liked what he saw. He hopes to make it a regular trip, maybe coming as much as three times a year, he said.
“We have a big academy network throughout the country. We are now all the way from the west coast to the east coast. We just opened academy centres in the Atlantic — Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward island,” said Choufour. “We want to be Canada’s club. We really believe in the philosophy that we have working with young players.
“We are looking to do more up here in the Yukon as well. Yukon is part of our MLS territory.”
The camp was a chance for Yukon players to learn and improve their skills, but also a chance to get noticed. The Whitecaps have youth teams from ages under-18 down to a “pre-prospects” academy for 13 and under.
Whitehorse goalkeeper Ole Heath has already caught the eye of the Whitecaps organization. The 13-year-old recently attended a Whitecaps camp in Vancouver and has been invited to another at the end of the month.
“It’s good because a lot of these players haven’t gotten this good training from the coaches down south,” said Heath. “It’s good because they are going to come up here more frequently, so it’s really good for the players developing.”
“There are a couple players who may be close to the level (we’re looking for), but they are a little older,” said Choufour. “We’re looking for Ole’s age – 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds – who will still have a lot of years with us.
“But this is the first step to find players here.”
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