The Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy is passing the ball over to a new head coach to oversee Terrace and the surrounding area.
In pursuit of expanding their program in the Northwest region, the Whitecaps have hired Adam Glass to come out and take over the local soccer academy.
“We felt so much diligence on the recruitment process for Adam because we didn’t want to send just anybody, we wanted to give [Terrace] the best that we could give them,” says Brett Adams, the national associate head coach of the Whitecaps FC Academy.
“He has that approachable sense that he really wants to be here and he’s not just picking up a paycheque. He wants to have an effect, he wants to make sure he has a positive impact on the players here and that was quite evident when we were interviewing him.”
The Whitecaps FC Academy has youth centres across Canada that provide team soccer training to approximately 60 to 80 players a week. Although Terrace is the Whitecaps’ base in the Northwest, the head coach also travels regularly to Kitimat and Prince Rupert to provide professional coaching.
Adams says that by providing soccer to smaller communities across the country, he hopes that it will give young people the opportunity to continue playing at a university level, where they could receive sports scholarships to fund their education. The academy is also open to encouraging new talent to eventually play for their main professional Whitecaps team based in Vancouver.
Adams says that ever since they launched their academy in Terrace two years ago, they’ve been taken aback with the surplus of enthusiasm and support they’ve received from the community.
Their goal is to create a legacy by continuing to offer professional coaching to young players while also establishing relationships with other soccer groups in the area. They’ve even begun conversations with schools to possibly incorporate coaching sessions in gym classes for students.
“The unique thing is that Terrace is a small area in relation to the other areas that we deal with but the passion is huge… [so] this year, we’re going to partner with the Terrace Soccer Association and Adam is going to oversee that technical direction,” says Adams. “He’s going to help not only the players coming to the Whitecaps sessions but all the players in this community.”
Outgoing head coach, Eric Horsburgh, has been promoted to associate head coach of the Lower Mainland and says that his biggest challenge leaving Terrace has been saying goodbye.
“It’s all bittersweet because now I have to leave Terrace… people are really nice here,” says Horsburg. “It’s absolutely beautiful in the Northwest… they’re really lucky to have Adam around.”
For Glass, he says he was thrilled when he received the job offer and recognizes how important Terrace is for the club, especially given its fast-growing population.
He’s been with the Whitecaps FC Academy for over a year and was previously working in the Lower Mainland area as their academy centre staff coach.
“I’ve done a lot of work in the development academy, which is important and different from other stuff because their sole purpose is the players. There are no worries about teams, games or winning. We care most about the players,” says Glass. “You need to take care of the kids… when a kid leaves here, they’ve had a good time. That you’ve been as much as you can as a coach — you’ve been a pillow for them to lean on.”
He adds that alongside focusing on the development of the core technical skills for the players, he also wants them to be creative on the field and to give them the confidence to make decisions for themselves.
As part of the Whitecaps FC Academy’s approach, he’s realistic to point out that not all the kids playing will turn soccer into a professional career but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from the sport.
“Having fun as a kid is the best thing you can do. It helps you grow, it helps you learn and enjoy life,” he says. “[Soccer also] builds a lot for the kids, it gets them active for life, and it’s an introduction on how to deal with other people.”