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Column: May 25 – An unexpected football festival in BC

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All three of British Columbia's professional soccer clubs are on the field and, just like you would a local business or grocer, you should support local businesses.

Local.

A term we now look for in our grocery stores, neighborhoods, and on many products, there is something innate about this word that fosters connection and support; a recognition that “local” means you are part of something: a community.

Supporting local products requires a symbiotic relationship between a product and the community. Without a product, there is nothing for the community to champion; however, if there is no community to support it, the product will not succeed. Sometimes a local product comes about because of community demand, and sometimes the product is made first and the community rallies around it.

Although only in its second season, Vancouver FC burst onto the soccer scene in BC by bringing the professional soccer experience to the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. They came with the goal and mission to strengthen the local soccer community by working closely with the already established youth and senior organizations and providing opportunities to those in the community in every way possible. However, VFC is just the final piece of the soccer puzzle that has been evolving in BC for generations.

Most notably, Major League Soccer's (MLS) Vancouver Whitecaps FC is celebrating its club's 50th anniversary in professional soccer. Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) was founded at the league's inception and gave Vancouver Islanders the first opportunity to have their own team. And now Vancouver FC is reaching out to the Fraser Valley's growing population as it continues to expand eastward.

These professional teams are at the top of the soccer pyramid in British Columbia, but they are also supported by semi-professional leagues like League1 BC, adult recreational leagues like the Fraser Valley Soccer League, university teams like Trinity Western University and the University of British Columbia, from which Thomas Powell and Sebastian Dzikowski respectively came to VFC, and the numerous youth organizations that have created this entire community. Not to mention the countless organizations that have come and gone throughout the history of this province, all of which have played a role in building this community.

It's these local teams and organizations that provide supporters and fans with a connection to the community, but they are just as important for aspiring players to have tangible opportunities to strive for. We are proud to support our local players because they are proof that our community can achieve great things.

Vancouver FC is a prime example of the talent BC has and what local boys are more than capable of. The roster features 13 BC-born players, from veterans of the game like Callum Irving and Kadin Chung to young professionals just starting out like TJ Tahid, James Cameron and Grady McDonnell. The club has also provided an important opportunity for local players like Ben Fisk, David Norman, Paris Gee and Zach Verhoven to return home and represent their community.

Yet, through the wonderful world of sports, we are also proud to welcome those who have chosen to join our communities because they believe there is and has been a strong soccer presence in our province. For VFC, it is people like Renan Garcia and Alejandro “Wero” Díaz who are household names in our communities, even if they are not necessarily from the area. But through the passion and support of the soccer community in BC, they have found a home here.

Soccer is a global sport for a reason, it has the ability to bring anyone and everyone together and bond the community through simple participation. There is no better celebration of our soccer community or demonstration of how much support there is for soccer in BC than on May 25th when all three professional teams compete.

The day begins with a BC derby, where Pacific and Vancouver meet at Willoughby Park from 3 p.m. The Whitecaps then host Inter Miami at BC Place in Downtown Vancouver, kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.

Fans can watch all three local teams in one day and support BC's great soccer community together.

The heart of British Columbia soccer beats at the local level and Vancouver FC is proud to be a part of it.

– Vancouver FC