Vancouver Island FC
Just as 2019 World Cup was coming to an end, the WPSL was also quietly wrapping up it’s 2019 regular season. In their inaugural season, Vancouver Island FC finished second in the Northwest Conference with five consecutive wins to close out their fixture list. However, it wasn’t enough to secure a playoff spot and after a great first season, Vancouver Island FC have to sit-out the post season. Protagonist was interested in getting to know a little more about our semi-professional Canadian neighbors, so we reached out to their organization and Head Coach Neil Sedgwick was happy to reply to our questions about their identity, mission, and…
I love your badge - often I run across club crests which are borrowed directly from an associated men's team or just taken from a template online. What's the story with the badge elements, the colors, and the name?
We provided the designer with a number of ideas, Vancouver Island concepts which we wanted them to consider within the design. As ever, they came back with several designed which we offered feedback on. From there we took these designs to our first community meeting and they selected, almost unanimously the design. We followed a similar process for the name. The group came up with a number of variations, they discussed them and then voted on the name. We wanted this team to be owned by the community. It was important that there was input.
As for the colours, we have taken the same colours as Pacific FC. We believed that it was important that the top men's and women's teams shared certain aspects, and colours were something which we felt made complete sense.
What is the primary objective of the women's side? Vancouver Island has a unique soccer history all to itself, with famous men's clubs from bygone eras; has there ever been women's soccer in Victoria or on the island? What's the history of the women's game there and where are you taking this squad?
There has been a W-League team with the Victoria Highlanders FC, however, it has been 4-5 years without that opportunity. We simply wanted to provide the opportunity for players to compete at a high level whilst providing the opportunity for young players to watch the top female players from the island. We can only become what we see, and it was important to us to be advocates for the women's game when there are so many wonderful things going on for the men.
Where do we want it to go? We are looking to create this as a sustainable opportunity for players and spectators on Vancouver Island.
It’s hard running a club in any league, some organizations have certain advantages like built-in youth teams to funnel players up, or ownership of the facilities to reduce overhead. What, if any, advantages do your club have, are they effectively wielded, and what assets or advantages do you wish you had?
We have been connected to BCSPL as a coaching staff and a number of our current VIFC players have worked with us in this environment or in academy environments. That is a natural connection and gives them a reason to come watch. But we are hopeful that other clubs and academies also encourage the young girls to come out and watch these players.
Your club seem brand new, I don't imagine you've had any player or coaches move into the ranks of NWSL squads? Are there any notable players or coaches from other locales who have decided to join you at Vancouver Island FC?
We are fortunate to have a number of players who have had fantastic careers and there are players who are still on the rise. People like Mariel Solsberg, Katie Krautner, Liz Gregg have all been in professional environments. Ashley Cathro, Cecilia Way, Emily McCue have been part of the REX program. Then so many university players who are currently contributing or have been strong contributors to programs such as North Dakota State, UBC, UVIC, UNBC, Queen's, UCalgary, Stoneybrook, to name a few. We have a strong group of players on this island who are training and playing at really good levels.
We're in a World Cup year for women's soccer and there seems to be a heightened level of interest, is the future of the women's game as bright as it seems? Do you see fan interest increasing? For any new teams forming, what words of wisdom would you offer to grow that club? What is a pitfall to avoid?
We may see more Canadian teams enter our conference. I think there is a good level of interest there. We hope that this will bring more interest from Victoria soccer community. I believe we have a lot of soccer fans who would enjoy what they see on the field, we just have to get the word out. We are not operating with a large budget so we rely on a few means to market the program. But the word is spreading, however, we are near the end of our season. With a point in our last game, we finish 2nd behind the Seattle Sounders in our first season. The only team the Sounders have lost to is us... a great start.