Unlike the North American pro staples football, baseball, basketball and hockey, which restock mostly through the draft, pro soccer clubs worldwide long have had a tradition of developing potential future players through their own academy programs.
That tradition will take young Victoria soccer players Andre Earthy-Find, Liam McManaman and Charlie Miller to live and train on the Lower Mainland in the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency Under-18 program. It’s the first step for those with a chance, and it remains a longshot with the competition unyielding, of eventually making the Major League Soccer team.
But there’s a saying about a dream deferred being a dream denied. So why not take the chance? Bays United product Adam Straith did, leaving the Island for the Whitecaps Residency U-18 program in a career that didn’t take him to the Whitecaps but a pro soccer career in Europe and 26 caps for Canada.
All-rounder Earthy-Find made the B.C. rugby sevens team for his age group, is a four-handicap golfer and was on the Oak Bay High junior basketball team. But having also lived in Mexico and Chile — his dad Ingvard is in international agriculture — gave Earthy-Find a primary passion for soccer.
“I’ve loved this sport since I was very young. It changes every day. It’s never the same. I am probably going to miss everyone at home in Victoria, but I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity in the Whitecaps Residency,” said Earthy-Find, a six-foot-one swing performer who can play both back and forward on the left side.
Earthy-Find has a specific path in mind: “Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a pro in soccer. I would like to go to university or straight to the pros.”
If it’s the former, Earthy-Find has an ideal school in mind.
“It’s the University of Washington Huskies because I really liked how Jamie Clark coached at the ID camps I was at with him,” said Earthy-Find.
The academic side of things won’t be an issue in the Pac-12, or anywhere else for Earthy-Find, a straight-A student who plans on studying math, science or business.
Asked what makes him a potential pro, Earthy-Find said: “I believe I read the game well and, mentally, can handle the stress and don’t argue with the refs.”
Earthy-Find, McManaman and Miller are out of the Victoria Highlanders Prospects team.
“It was unbelievable . . . the best program I’ve been in,” said Earthy-Find.
The Island trio join the Whitecaps Residency U-18 program on Aug. 18.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play at the next level and progress from there,” said McManaman.
But it entails a switch in Grade 12 to Burnaby Central Secondary from Claremont.
“It will definitely be different, but I know a lot of the players in the program who will also be [at Burnaby Central],” said central attacker McManaman, who at six-foot-three, provides an enticing target.
Asked to describe his game, McManaman, said: “I believe I’m athletic and powerful and can think myself through the game.”
Miller, out of Bays United and Gorge, is also a centre forward.
McManaman is still sorting through CIS and NCAA options for the year after next.
“You always need [an academic] back-up plan,” said McManaman, who was also a volleyball player for Claremont.