Sports

Langley lands top-level soccer

Langley Xtreme’s Larissa de Wolf (right) gets a hug from teammates Hannah Beaton (left) and Kailey Waterman after scoring during her team’s U15 Gold game against the PoCo Strikers on Sunday at McLeod Park. The Strikers won 4-2. Langley FC has partnered with Abbotsford’s Magnuson Ford and will run one of the eight Premier League franchises. - John Gordon/Langley Times
Langley Xtreme’s Larissa de Wolf (right) gets a hug from teammates Hannah Beaton (left) and Kailey Waterman after scoring during her team’s U15 Gold game against the PoCo Strikers on Sunday at McLeod Park. The Strikers won 4-2. Langley FC has partnered with Abbotsford’s Magnuson Ford and will run one of the eight Premier League franchises.
— image credit: John Gordon/Langley Times

Langley has landed a spot in a new top-level soccer league.

Langley FC, a girls-only soccer club, is partnering with Abbotsford’s Magnuson Ford FC, and that joint venture has landed them one of eight founding franchises in the newly-created Premier League. It replaces metro as the highest level of girls’ soccer and selects, which is the top level for boys.

“For us, it is a great thing to be involved,” said Langley FC president Toni Burgess.

“This partnership brings the (league) right into Langley.”

One of the conditions of being awarded a franchise was to have both boys and girls soccer.

After merger discussions with the Langley United Youth Soccer Association failed, Langley FC was seriously considering joining Surrey United in their bid to land a franchise.

But Abbotsford came calling on Jan. 29 — just two days prior to the deadline submission to the B.C. Soccer Association — and wooed Langley to join them instead.

One of the sticking points was if Langley partnered with Surrey, only some of the training and teams would be based out of Langley.

“At the last minute, Abbotsford called us... and asked us if we would be willing to host the girls’ side of things,” said Shaun Mason, Langley FC’s technical director.

“The fact that Langley kids could stay in Langley, that was the long-term goal all along.”

“This will make it easier to facilitate having some of our coaches involved,” Burgess said.

The Premier League will feature boys and girls’ teams from the U13 to U18 level.

All of the boys’ squads will be based out of Abbotsford while Langley will host the girls’ teams.

Langley FC will still exist, while the Premier League teams will play under the banner of Magnuson Ford FC.

“It’s a big sigh of relief that we were successful,” Magnuson Ford FC president Brad Nicholl said. “We’re on cloud nine right now, but we’ve got to move forward. We can’t sit back at all.”

Chilliwack FC and Aldergrove Soccer were also partners in Abbotsford’s bid.

In addition to Abbotsford, the other franchises are Burnaby/North Shore; Coquitlam Metro Ford; Surrey United; South Fraser Soccer Club; Vancouver/Richmond; Lower Island/Upper Island Associations (Vancouver Island); and Thompson Okanagan FC.

Mason said the fact that Langley FC is involved right from the start is important because there is no guarantee that other organizations will be able to get into the Premier League down the road, unless an existing team struggles or the league decides to expand.

“You never know when you are going to have this opportunity again,” he said. “This is the biggest thing to come about in youth soccer in the past 20 years or so.

“They are basically restructuring youth soccer in B.C.”

The major innovation with the Premier League is that players are allowed to move outside of district boundaries to play on the elite circuit. By limiting the number of franchises to eight, B.C.’s top soccer talent is more concentrated.

The new league will run an exhibition schedule in the fall and then the new circuit will be fully on-stream in 2012, with a March-to-November season.

Burgess said there is buzz being generated by the new league, with lots of people talking about it.

Tryout dates are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

— with files from Dan Kinvig/Black Press

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