Pacific FC takes helm of Royal Bay soccer academy

Pacific FC president and co-owner Josh Simpson describes a pro soccer club’s presence within a community as an “eco-system.”

PFC will deepen those roots by operating a soccer academy at Royal Bay Secondary under the academic auspices of School District 62. “This is another level of integration,” said Simpson.

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PFC had earlier taken over operation of the elite Island Wave program, with those teams now under the Tridents banner.

“The Island Wave, now Tridents, is our higher-end development program. This school program adds one more level of integration. It’s step by step,” said Simpson.

The move adds to the several sports academies associated with high schools in various Island districts, such as the soccer academy at Reynolds, hockey academy at Belmont, baseball/softball academy at Lambrick Park, rowing academy at Claremont and field lacrosse academies at Claremont and Royal Bay.

“I would have loved to have had something like this when I was at Belmont Secondary. This is another step toward building future stars,” said Simpson, who played pro in Europe and earned 43 caps for Canada.

Pacific FC assistant coach James Merriman was instrumental in setting up the arrangement with the Sooke School District. John Mennie is the director of the Royal Bay soccer academy. Former PFC defender Ryan McCurdy and Dan Cummings will be the co-head coaches. McCurdy is a six-foot-three, 29-year-old native of Northern Ireland, who won a national championship with the Vancouver Island University Mariners in 2017 and was named colleges all-Canadian. McCurdy also played for the Victoria Highlanders, who were then in the PDL, and also for Vic West. The latter made him the first Vancouver Island Soccer League alumnus to play for PFC. He was also the first walk-on, called trialists in soccer, to sign with PFC when he cold-called and made the roster for the inaugural Canadian Premier League season in 2019.

“I’ve always coached on the side but have taken it more seriously the last couple of years,” said McCurdy.

“It’s exciting for me to be developing students as players and people.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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