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It Starts with a Goal: the Stories Behind Seven Inspiring Young Canadians in the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System

November 2, 2020 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Vancouver Whitecaps FC News Release


VANCOUVER, BC - Seven players from across the country will be spotlighted in the coming weeks to highlight a selection of unique stories from the nationwide Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System.

Whitecaps FC and BMO are partners in the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels across Canada, with Academy Centre programs operating in eight provinces and two territories, from Vancouver Island to Prince Edward Island, and with a newly created Virtual Academy available to participants from anywhere in the country.

"We have a tremendous focus on supporting the ambitions of Canadian youth," said Vanni Sartini, Whitecaps FC director of methodology. "Every day there are young players in every corner of this country who are training hard, focused, and dreaming of representing Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Canada's men's and women's national teams. It is one of our greatest honours to help them achieve their dreams and continue to fall in love with the game."

Each video features players from the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System in their home setting. The series kicks off with Ebalo Amuri from the Whitecaps FC BMO Manitoba Academy Centre, in partnership with the Manitoba Soccer Association. The native of Winnipeg was originally born in Mozambique before he and his family immigrated to Canada 14 years ago.

"BMO is proud to help support and recognize these deserving players, and excited to partner with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on all efforts like this that positively impact communities today and for years to come," added Josh Epstein, head of corporate sponsorship for BMO Financial Group.

Upcoming videos will feature:

Ellie Lancaster - Nova Scotia

Semegn Atkinson & Addis Atkinson - Kootenays

Elizabeth Hanson - Saskatchewan

Camren Strang - Newfoundland & Labrador

Mihail Gherasimencov - Alberta (now in the MLS Academy in Vancouver)

It's been another banner year for the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System. Some achievements from alumni include:

Isaac Boehmer (Okanagan Falls, BC) signed to the MLS first team roster. Boehmer featured in last year's It Starts with a Goal series while coming through the Whitecaps FC BMO Okanagan Academy Centre

Three graduates of the program debuted for the club in Major League Soccer: Michael Baldisimo (Burnaby, BC), Patrick Metcalfe (Richmond, BC), and Thomas Hasal (Saskatoon, SK), the latter of whom came through the Whitecaps FC BMO Saskatchewan Academy Centre

Girls Elite REX products Julia Grosso (Vancouver, BC), Jordyn Huitema (Chilliwack, BC), and Jayde Riviere (Markham, ON) helped Canada qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Huitema won the Golden Boot with seven goals in the qualifying tournament

Former Whitecaps FC BMO London Academy Centre player Rylee Foster (Cambridge, ON) debuted for the Liverpool FC women's team

BMO Academy System product Alphonso Davies (Edmonton, AB) became the first Canadian international to win the prestigious UEFA Champions League and is among the final 20 nominees for the 2020 Golden Boy Award, handed out to the top Europe-based player under the age of 21

For more information on the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System, visit whitecapsfc.com/academy.


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