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Rising Tide...BC's newest Pro Club prepares for inaugural kick-off in CPL

BC Soccer extends best wishes to everyone involved with Pacific Football Club.

Langford BC, April 26 2019:

The last time professional soccer was played on Vancouver Island, the Victoria Vistas of The Canadian Soccer League were battling their BC rivals Vancouver 86ers in the 1990 playoffs.  Derbies between the two would routinely draw 4,000 plus spectators to Royal Athletic Park. 

On Sunday, the pro game returns to the Island in the form of Pacific FC under the stewardship of 2 former Canadian Internationals with strong BC roots, and their business partner Dean Shillington. 

Although born on the Mainland, Josh Simpson was raised in the very community where the inaugural match will take place in Langford…which is a much different community today from when Simpson grew up.  Back then, there were few if any domestic pro soccer opportunities.  Similarly, Rob Friend, who was born in Kelowna but raised in Saskatchewan, sought playing 

time on foreign soil.  It was during this period, the two would meet through Canadian International duty and form a strong friendship that has now extended to business partnership and club leadership.

For two young men, not long removed from their pro careers, it wasn’t just a financial and intellectual committment, it was an obligation to provide young players with opportunity while regenerating the soccer life cycle.  That meant moving their young families (each have 3 kids) to the Capital Region.  For Friend, the relocation was across Georgia Straight from his North Van base.

Simpson had a more expensive move, packing up and leaving Switzerland behind:   “It was daunting and slightly scary at first, but it had to be done, and it was too exciting a project to pass up.  We both had to be here to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty while being accessible to everyone involved.” 

The process to build an Island-based club was exhaustive and comprehensive, but one word kept emerging from the two former Bundesliga veterans; energy.  Friend, who became a popular figure at all the clubs he represented because of his physical stature and work-ethic, was always fueled by the voracious noise from the German terraces;  “It was a two-way relationship. Sometimes, the players sparked the energy from the crowd by doing something special, and other times, the crowd lifted us with a jolt of adrenaline…and that’s what we ultimately want to create here, that synergy…that relationship.”  

The physical make-up of German football grounds helped with the cause because for the players, it always felt like supporters were right on top of them. It’s something the owners are striving to replicate at Westhills stadium, which is in the early stages of a total make-over that could ultimately see the venue reach 9,000 seats fully enclosing the site on Langford Parkway.

That “energy” theme is reflective of a fast growing community powered by remarkable development, and a younger demographic drawn by higher learning and a burgeoning tech sector. The streets of the Capital are buzzing with activity. This palpable regeneration is nourished by the daily infusion of briny air that brings with it a desirable climate, a perpetual breeze and occasionally, an awe-inspiring storm.

When it came time to name the league’s 7th club, the inspiration was immediate.  Everything about Island life, the people, the weather, and the air had one thing in common…they were all delivered by the Pacific Ocean.  When the CPL Identity team (tasked with helping ownership groups create their club brand) arrived in Victoria last summer, the focus groups were instantaneously drawn to images of the Pacific.  It became abundantly clear that one of the biggest reasons for moving to an Island was because people sought-out separation from the mainland pace.  As one focus group member put it; “we can swim, surf, sail, and fish all in one day.  We are wired to be near the ocean.”

Even the club colours, influenced by the vibrant starfish that appear all along the rocky shorelines, offer a jolt of colour complimented by a “lagoon blue” that creates one of the more dynamic palates in the CPL’s kit spectrum. 

Pacific FC was born…not just a Victoria or Langford club, but one that represented the entire Island, from Alert Bay to Zeballos. 

Now first year coach Michael Silberbauer, an acquaintance of Josh Simpson during his days at Young Boys in Switzerland, is tasked with replicating that energy on the pitch.  The club is stocked with young British Columbians, and hopefully one day, will motivate a new generation of Island born players, rivalling the golden generation of the 80’s that became the back-bone of Canada’s lone World Cup appearance.

Silberbauer was asked how he envisioned the on-field hallmarks of his side;  "It will be young and exciting and I hope the team represents this wonderful community with hard work and togetherness."

When the CPL was first hatched with sanctioning in 2016, one of the immediate goals was to create a truly coast to coast league.  That vision will be manifested on opening weekend in front of a sold-out crowd in Langford, as Pacific face HFX Wanderers in the 3rd longest away fixture on the planet. 

Pacific vs Atlantic, West Coasters vs Maritimers, Islanders vs Bluenose’s, Beach party vs Kitchen Party; no matter how you spin it, the return of pro soccer to Vancouver Island is guaranteed to be an energetic affair. 

About BC Soccer

BC Soccer is the provincial sport governing body with the mission to govern, promote and develop the game of soccer in British Columbia in a professional and progressive manner. Established in 1907, BC Soccer is the largest provincial sports organization (PSO) in BC and the third largest soccer-specific PSO in Canada with over 150,000 participants.  As a professional not-for-profit society and a member of Canada Soccer, BC Soccer is committed to providing the widest opportunities for existing and potential participants, as well as provide support in the most effective and appropriate way for current players, parents, volunteers, member clubs, leagues, and districts.

BC Soccer is comprised of more than 120,000 registered players, over 2,200 registered referees, and thousands of volunteer coaches, administrators, and soccer leaders. Working with its 40 member Youth Districts and 11 Adult Leagues as well as their affiliate member clubs, BC Soccer operates under the guiding principles of Professional Leadership, Passionate Service and Progressive Collaboration. In managing its relationships throughout the larger soccer community, BC Soccer’s vision is to ensure every British Columbian has the opportunity to be involved in soccer as part of a lifelong commitment to an active, healthy and involved lifestyle.