Vancouver Whitecaps FC Community Asset Review – Part 11

Editors’ note: Kurt and John are firm believers that Vancouver can and should be the Canadian epicenter for growing the sport and culture of soccer football soccer. This is a self-described healthy community. We can play outside year-round, as fields are rarely closed due to snow and/or freezing. And, most importantly, Vancouver is the place to expertly develop the sport of soccer because our city’s team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, shares this goal and so demonstrates this vision through its Club Structure and the Whitecaps Foundation, which aims to create the fittest generation of BC Youth by 2020.

As Vancouver Whitecaps FC season ticket holders, Kurt and John are well-positioned to evaluate how the franchise showcases its commitment to “be a significant community asset” – so, following every match we will reflect on this commitment by answering two questions, which are below. Sometimes we bring friends and/or family-members to the game. And sometimes those awesome friends and/or family-members write awesome blog posts about the experience.

On July 18 the ‘Caps tied the LA Galaxy 2-2. On July 22 the ‘Caps defeated San Jose 2-1.

HOW IS THE CLUB A SIGNIFICANT COMMUNITY ASSET?

D’uh, #winning #drawing against David Beckham and #winning against an MLS’s best team, the San Jose Earthquakes. BC Place was packed for both games, and the match against the LA Galaxy was sold out – had the ‘Caps not played to strikingly well, many of the casual fans who came to see His Royal Underwearness (rather than their home team) would have been very unlikely to return for another home game against, say, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, or another an MLS team from a tier-two American city with no almost-washed-up English Premier League stars on their roster.

As it turns out, putting a quality product on the field is a great way to demonstrate how the club is a significant community asset. Look, anytime David Beckham misses a free kick from this close it’s a beautiful thing:

WHAT COULD MAKE THE CLUB AN EVEN BETTER ASSET?

Destroy the spirit and will of referee-pushing Olympic turnaway David Beckham and his heels of teammates Donovan and Keane by beating them by a significant margin in front of more than 20,000 people, many of whom are not ‘Caps fans but will attend the match to experience the tour de force* that is The Beckham Show.

I’ve done the maths; a crushing victory over the Galaxy will secure at least 362 multi-game fans for the 2013 season and 73 season ticket holders for 2014.

For a sports club, being a significant community asset is, after all, about #winning.

Long Tan Gone from the Whitecaps

Photo courtesy of Vancouver Sun

Today it was announced that striker Long Tan has been traded from the Vancouver Whitecaps to DC United after starting only four games this season. Tan had played a lot more last season (though the scoreboard didn’t particularly reflect it), but it seems this season he was moved to third string by the more formidable forward presences of Eric Hassli and Darren Mattocks.

Unfortunately, the lack of playing time seems to have caused a great deal of frustration for the 24 year old “dragon” (as dubbed by the local Whitecaps cheer squad). Three weeks ago after sitting on the bench for yet another game, Tan tweeted:

“You don’t give me time to playing. You don’t want let me go. What do you want?? I do not understand! Keep me of win PDL champion?”

Obviously not a happy camper, which is understandable. I can’t imagine how tough it would be sitting on the bench, game after game, as the crowd bellowed Hassli’s name (not yours) at the 70 minute mark. Such a situation would not lead to a happy “work-place environment”.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tan’s trade will be best for everyone. Hopefully, he’ll receive more playing time (and job satisfaction) with his new team. I also have to wonder how much of the decision to trade him was driven by his frustrated online outburst and other tension under the surface?

Photo courtesy of Mafue

 

Whitecaps FC Community Asset Review – Part 7

Editors’ note: Kurt and John are firm believers that Vancouver can and should be the Canadian epicenter for growing the sport and culture of soccer football soccer. This is a self-described healthy community. We can play outside year-round, as fields are rarely closed due to snow and/or freezing. And, most importantly, Vancouver is the place to expertly develop the sport of soccer because our city’s team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, shares this goal and so demonstrates this vision through its Club Structure and the Whitecaps Foundation, which aims to create the fittest generation of BC Youth by 2020.

As Vancouver Whitecaps FC season ticket holders, Kurt and John are well-positioned to evaluate how the franchise showcases its commitment to “be a significant community asset” – so, following every match we will reflect on this commitment by answering two questions, which are below. Sometimes we bring friends and/or family-members to the game. And sometimes those awesome friends and/or family-members write awesome blog posts about the experience.

Yesterday’s match was a 1-1 tie against the New York Red Bulls.

HOW IS THE CLUB A SIGNIFICANT COMMUNITY ASSET?

Photo courtesy of MafueOne of the great things about Whitecaps games is they’re generally jammed with positivity and good sportsmanship. On the playing field, players play hard but rarely overly roughly. Diving is kept to a minimum, partly because it doesn’t seem to be part of the North American soccer culture and partly because referees seem uninterested in stopping the play and humouring a player writhing in (pretend) agony unless he was legitimately crunched. While every once and a while you’ll see a body check (half the time by Eric Hassli) that seems to harken to the NHL, most games begin and end relatively clean. There’s doubtlessly yapping on the field, but it’s rare to see it get out of hand. Dirty play is kept to a minimum.

In the stands it is a similar situation. In our section in particular, the cheers tend to be all positive all the time. All the cheers are aimed at buoying the teams spirits, congratulating great moves, hyping up the nearby fans and acknowledging great players. Even when faced with a Red Bull goalie a mere 15 meters away who’s sporting a mullet, it was exceedingly tricky to elicit a hardy “Get a Haircut” chant out of our crew.

All and all, the general “goodness” that seems to be implicit in the Whitecaps generally contrasts with the angry fans you sometimes see out East (see below) or in other sports where it is de rigour to scream nasty things. Indeed, it was this bad behaviour that forced John and I to stand in an empty stadium in Seattle for two hours last year prior to the match to ensure our crew didn’t “mix” with the Seattle Sounders fans. Such were the fears that Vancouver fans would follow in the nasty steps of other soccer thugs.

 WHAT COULD MAKE THE CLUB AN EVEN BETTER ASSET?

On Saturday I attended a game where a group of drucken dudes on a stag started yelling nasty things at the Whitecaps Cheer Captain. “Sit down and watch the game @%%$%@&&”, they screamed.

While these fellows may have been new to the Whitecaps culture or really, really drunk (or both), it would have been nice if the community rallied to let them know their behaviour wasn’t appropriate. I totally understand this is easier said then done (heck, I wasn’t up there telling them to shut up) – but hey, this section is called “What could make the club an even better asset?” Community/crowd engagement of these obnoxious louts would have been nice.

Whitecaps FC Community Asset Review – Part 4

Editors’ note: Kurt and John are firm believers that Vancouver can and should be the Canadian epicenter for growing the sport and culture of soccer football soccer. This is a self-described healthy community. We can play outside year-round, as fields are rarely closed due to snow and/or freezing. And, most importantly, Vancouver is the place to expertly develop the sport of soccer because our city’s team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, shares this goal and so demonstrates this vision through its Club Structure and the Whitecaps Foundation, which aims to create the fittest generation of BC Youth by 2020.

As Vancouver Whitecaps FC season ticket holders, Kurt and John are well-positioned to evaluate how the franchise showcases its commitment to “be a significant community asset” – so, following every match we will reflect on this commitment by answering two questions, which are below. Sometimes we bring friends and/or family-members to the game. And sometimes those awesome friends and/or family-members write awesome blog posts about the experience.

How is the team a significant community asset?

Vancouver Whitecaps FC is not only a bicycle friendly organization, they make cycling to games easy by collaborating with The Bicycle Valet. This encourages bike riding to and from the game, which certainly aligns with the club’s vision to develop the “fittest generation of youth in BC by 2020.”

I was lucky enough to attend both home games last week and rode my bike to the games with Michelle on Wednesday and Kurt on Saturday. There was certainly some powerful community building in the lineup for the Bicycle Valet, too, as cyclist chatted about Eric Hassli’s brilliant goal (below), tips about how to get to and from the game, and how beautiful a city Vancouver is for cycling.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE CLUB AN EVEN BETTER ASSET?

With the summer season upon us and BC Place located in our city’s gorgeous False Creek/Downtown ‘hood, Vancouver Whitecaps FC has an opportunity to leverage the beauty of its community – there might not be a better place to spend summer than in Vancouver. For some cyclists, though, getting outside for exercise isn’t enough, so my proposal is that the club incentivize cycling to and from games.

What does this look like and how can it be done? Simple gestures, such as coupons or gift certificates to Whitecaps FC business partners, represent great strating points. Grander gestures, such as “Bicycle Day” or “‘Capscycle”, would go a bit further to honour the folks that travel to experience sport by, well, experiencing sport and emitting far fewer emissions en route to doing so.

So, think  about it, Vancouver Whitecaps FC. See you at the bike valet!

Masthead photo courtesy of Mafue’s photostream on Flickr

Whitecaps FC Community Asset Review – Part 3

Editors’ note: Kurt and John are firm believers that Vancouver can and should be the Canadian epicenter for growing the sport and culture of soccer football soccer. This is a self-described healthy community. We can play outside year-round, as fields are rarely closed due to snow and/or freezing. And, most importantly, Vancouver is the place to expertly develop the sport of soccer because our city’s team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, shares this goal and so demonstrates this vision through its Club Structure and the Whitecaps Foundation, which aims to create the fittest generation of BC Youth by 2020.

As Vancouver Whitecaps FC season ticket holders, Kurt and John are well-positioned to evaluate how the franchise showcases its commitment to “be a significant community asset” – so, following every match we will reflect on this commitment by answering two questions, which are below. Sometimes we bring friends and/or family-members to the game. And sometimes those awesome friends and/or family-members write awesome blog posts about the experience.

Here is our brand-new (and youngest) Correspondent, Josie Buter’s, take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC being a significant community asset.

Josie Buter - current and future world changer

How is the team a significant community asset?

The Whitecaps FC games bring people together, for example I went to the game against Kansas City and before the game I got to take part in a parade to the stadium with the Southsiders. They had chants and giant flags with the players’ faces on them, some people knew the chants and others didn’t, but it didn’t matter because you could still clap along to the rhythm of the drums they brought with them. The cheering didn’t stop outside the stadium though, throughout the whole game there were ringleaders that lead all the cheers. The whole experience was very exciting and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE CLUB AN EVEN BETTER ASSET?

Now that the men’s team has success in a higher level of soccer, where are the women? When I was younger I went to many of the women’s Whitecaps games and looked up to the players on the team, they were role models for me. For young girls it’s important to have role models, and when playing soccer it is good to have a picture in your head of what a player who plays your position or plays on a competitive team looks like. Having a local team, that would play all year ‘round would give many young soccer players hope that they can achieve their goals as well, no matter the size of the net.

Whitecaps Build Community with Flags and Families

Photo courtesy of Gerry K.

Nothing like a hard fought soccer game under the open Vancouver sky. This weekend, I got to experience it first hand as the Vancouver Whitecaps took on DC United in their third game of the season. Coming off a two game winning streak, first at home against the Montreal Impact and then (miracles!) on the road against Chivas USA, there were big expectations and a heady sense of optimism about a winning streak that’d last to three games in a row. In the end, we got a tie (certainly better than a loss) – but that’s not all that we witnessed that night.

Equally powerful was the sense of community (particularly in the first part of the second half) when the Whitecaps really turned the electricity on!

It started outside the stadium. Unlike BC Lions games or even Canucks games, the community built by the Whitecaps tends to be young, diverse and the total opposite of “rough around the edges” turkeys that were made famous last summer during the Vancouver’s most disgraceful night.

Milling around the outside of the stadium, thousands of fans clad in blue and white meandered towards the gates. Few were ridiculously intoxicated or surely. Hundreds had goofy grins on their faces.There was a young family vibe to it all.

Once in the stadium, we set up close to the Whitecaps goal next to three dozen fanatical fans equipped with jerseys and dozens of multi-color flags. The super fans included a big burly Scots as well as French, Koreans, Filipinos and even a group of guys who appeared to hail from the Middle East. It’s part of what I love so much about soccer – the multiculturalism of it all. Together we sang a dozen uniquely Vancouver chants inspired by the great European clubs.

On the field, our team mirrored the diversity of its fan base. Players hailed from Brazil, Spain, China, Korea, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, the US and Canada. When Long Tan ran on from the sidelines in the late stages of the game, a group of Chinese fans a few seats away gave a mighty cheer.

Talk about a terrific community building event.

Header courtesy of Albumen

Whitecaps FC connects with Street Soccer Community

Photo courtesy of Metro News.

Yesterday afternoon Whitecaps FC players Jeb Brovsky, Shea Salinas, Bilal Duckett and Jonathan Leathers joined dozens of street soccer players at Oppenheimer park for a pick up game and meet and greet. It was an amazing afternoon for many players who’ve faced homelessness and addiction challenges in their lives.

It’s  always awesome when two wicked communities come together and it’s hard to imagine a better fit than these two organizations. Both are committed and passionate about the power of soccer. Organizers of both teams seem optimistic that Wednesday’s practice will lay the groundwork of a developing relationship between Vancouver’s premiere soccer club and the Vancouver Street Soccer League – an organization designed to use the power of sport to empower and engage some of the city’s most marginalized citizens.

For many of the players of both Portland FC and Phoenix, the scrimmage with the caps was a once in a life time chance to pass to and score against MLS players.

Next week a five mens team players and eight women will be leaving BC to compete on behalf of Canada at the international competition. The scrimmage was a good preview for some of the high level play Team Canada can expected at the upcomingHomeless World Cup in Paris, France.

Last year Team Canada took home the Fair Play Award for their sportsmanship at the tournament hosted in Rio. This year Canada is sending both a mens and Women’s team. Organizers are hopeful the Paris trip will be just as positive and transformational for the teams’ players as the Rio trip was. Many of the team members who’ve returned have stayed hooked on soccer, off drugs and been successful in finding housing.

Road Trip to Thermopylae

Drenched in sweat and beer, we stood in a daze of fanatic euphoria. Whitecaps striker Eric Hassli had just managed to fire an absolutely spectacular shot, launched from mid-air, into the Seattle Sounder’s net. The stadium reverberated in a low moan as all 35,000 Sounders fans jammed into Q-West field (normally the home of the Seattle Seahawks) watched their 2-1 lead evaporate.

We didn’t hear much of the moan because we’d been busy chanting, singing, flag waving and generally celebrating the merits of our team. We were part of a small group of hardcore fans who’d been allowed to purchase tickets in the fan section for the historic rivalry. 500 of our white and blue clad, Bell-emblazoned, troops (200 more than the Spartans had!) stood for the past two hours attempting to beat back the chants of the Sounders’s “X-Box”-labelled fans. At first it had been easy. When we were first marshaled into the stadium by security, there was hardly a person in the seat. The drum guys set up and within no-time we were chanting our battle cries (including such delightful ditties as “We’re blue, we’re white, we’re fucking dynamite”) in a vacant stadium. We figured we’d done pretty well, though perhaps that was just the beer talking.

Ten minutes into the first half, the lower bowl of the stadium was filled to capacity. The energy in the stadium was electric. We were hoping against hope for a tie. Against a top flight team (who’d set the standard for the Whitecaps when it came to fan culture) and shortly after our team had axed their coach for the number of losses, this would be a minor miracle. Indeed, the bus ride down had been good natured revelry mixed with a healthy does of realism. There was no expectance and no one was chanting do or die (unlike the fans of another big sporting event that was coming up back home).

When we arrived in Seattle we piled out of the bus and then headed into a local pub for a pint. We had little come back for the query/chant of pub-going Sounders about how we could possibly cheer for a “1 win team”.

By 5:30 we had rallied around the Whitecaps flags. Our posse looked formidable and many of our team were already a mess (even before the game began). But it’s messy, boisterous fans that can often inspire the greatest things and we were ready to “represent”.

Once the game got underway, there was lots to cheer for. The size and scope of the stadium was humbling. The soccer played by our team was smooth and creative. When we scored on a penalty jumping ahead by one, our crowd went wild. Blue flags were wildly a flutter. The drum guys led us in chant after chant after chant. We never sat from the moment we arrived at our seats and would not throughout the game. To their credit, Seattle fans seemed equally predisposed to ignore their seats.

When the final minutes were up, our crew of revelers stood by our seats for another half hour of boisterous song and cheers. My voice by this time was starting to fade. Still jacked up on adrenaline, our crowd flocked down the empty hallways chanting for the Caps. A Sounders tie was a Whitecaps victory and our community of loyal fans was all the better for it. Next stop would be a three hour bus ride home through the darkness, past incredulous border guards and a drop off at the River Rock Casino where we’d started the trip. Amazing times and amazing community of soccer enthusiasts.