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Search coming for undiscovered soccer stars

Vancouver Football Club will be holding open trials later this month in hunt for new young talent
International striker Jose Navarro (above) is one of the newest players to join the Vancouver Football Club, along with Canadian defender Elage Bah. (Beau Chevalier, VFC/Special to Langley Advance Times)

The search is on for undiscovered soccer talent as the Vancouver Football Club (VFC) prepares to host its second annual open trials next month at Willoughby Stadium.

Heading into the second season of play this spring, the Langley-based professional soccer team is searching out young talent to join the Canadian Premier League’s newest team, and head coach Afshin Ghotbi is hoping to discover some exciting new players.

Vancouver is looking to build off the success of the club’s inaugural trials in 2023, which saw six players earn professional contracts. Ghotbi noted more than 30 additional players earned the chance to participate in VFC training throughout the 2023 season.

The upcoming trials, being held on their home pitch at Willoughby Stadium – next to Langley Events Centre – will run Monday to Thursday, March 18 to 21.

“Vancouver FC’s open trials are a great opportunity for young players to showcase their talent and potential in front of the club’s entire coaching staff,” said Ghotbi. “Players such as Taryck (T.J.) Tahid and James Cameron are proof that anyone can achieve their dreams of playing professional soccer in Canada.”

Participants in the open trials could go on to earn a professional contract offer, an invitation to participate in pre-season camp, or an invitation to participate in additional training groups/match opportunities throughout the season.

“We are very excited to offer this opportunity to the next crop of talent in our community, allowing them to showcase themselves for a chance to sign with Vancouver FC,” added Vancouver FC’s president Rob Friend.

Any interested participants can register online before Monday, March 11. In alignment with the club’s mandate to provide opportunities within its community, registration fee waivers are available for those experiencing financial hardship or in need of assistance. Participants must be 16 years of age or older by Dec. 31, 2024 to be eligible.

“I wish success to everyone who participates and we look forward to discovering the next star,” said Friend.

Gearing up for upcoming season

Meanwhile, it’s been confirmed that Vancouver FC will take on the reigning Canadian Premier League (CPL) regular season champions Cavalry FC in the local club’s first match of the 2024, during the Canadian championship being hosted in Calgary at the end of April.

“We are very excited to be competing in our second Canadian championship,” Ghotbi said.

“We have worked very hard in the off-season to build a competitive squad who can challenge reigning champions and we look forward to battling for the Voyageurs Cup starting in April.”

Speaking to their efforts of building out the team ahead of the new season, VFC recently announced the signing of Mexican international Jose Navarro on a two-year contract.

Plus they recently signed Canadian defender Elage Bah, to the 2024 roster, also on a two-year contract.

Earlier this year, they signed Surrey midfielder Grady McDonnell. At age 15, he becomes the youngest signing in Canadian Premier League history. He superseded Tahid, who was 16 years and 16 days old when the Maple Ridge youth inked his first professional contract with the club in May 2023.

The team also announced earlier this month that Vancouver FC was parting ways with defender Ibrahim Bakare by what Ghotbi called a mutual agreement.

As it stands now, the VFC roster includes the following:

Goalkeepers: Callum Irving;

Defenders: Kadin Chung, Rocco Romeo, Tyler Crawford, Anthony White, James Cameron, Paris Gee, David Norman, and Bah;

Midfielders: Elliot Simmons, Ben Fisk, Vasco Fry, Renan Garcia, and Grady McDonnell;

Forwards: Alejandro ‘Wero’ Díaz, Mouhamadou ‘Mamadou’ Kane, Gabriel Bitar, Taryck ‘TJ’ Tahid, Mikaël Cantave, and Navarro.

Further Vancouver roster announcements are expected to be made in the days and weeks to come.

READ MORE: Vancouver FC signs 15-year-old


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