BC League 1 logo. (BC Soccer)

BC League 1 logo. (BC Soccer)

Quesnel soccer facilitator optimistic new league could provide opportunities

Oliver Hitch said League 1 BC will have a positive effect on soccer development in the region

A new soccer league will mean new opportunities for players across the province, including in the North, according to Oliver Hitch, the Quesnel Youth Soccer Association facility co-ordinator.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids who are hoping for improvement, it really gives them an extra place to play if they’re not going to university, or they’re working,” he said. “Whatever they chose to do, they’ve got that extra option.”

League1 BC, a high performance adult league, is set to launch in May of 2022. The league is “intended to bridge the gap between youth and professional soccer, targeting ‘Training to Compete’ stage within Long-term Player Development (LTPD),” according to a news release from BC Soccer.

No team locations have been announced, and a northern franchise isn’t expected in the first round of teams, but BC Soccer hopes to eventually have teams across the province. Ontario and Quebec have similar leagues focused on developing young Canadian players.

Even if there is no northern teams, Hitch said he expects some northern players to play and develop in the league, and expects any future northern team to be located in Prince George.

“A first team within the northern region would be a really interesting prospect,” he said. “I’m not sure what the plans for growth are. Investment-wise, it will be a substantial amount of money, you’ve got a lot of travel… It could be tough to get started, but there’s definitely a potential for the North.”

The Vancouver Whitecaps have committed to putting a team of prospects into the league.

READ MORE: Vancouver Whitecaps still in playoff race after 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City

High-level soccer in Canada is on the rise. Not only are the men’s and women’s national teams reaching new heights, but Canadian produced players are making waves in some of the biggest leagues in Europe.

“There’s more and more eyes coming onto the region,” Hitch said. “The more opportunities to get eyes on the product is good. Players can see the pathway a bit better… They can see the potential of where they can go play.”

League1 BC could help fill out a traditional soccer ‘pyramid’ for Canada, where players develop at lower level clubs and advance through the ranks during their career.

The best teams in similar Ontario and Quebec leagues get the chance to play in a nation-wide tournament against Canadian Premier League and Major League Soccer teams.

READ MORE: Pacific FC shine in Langford with historic win over Vancouver Whitecaps

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


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