Vancouver TSS Rovers
While we’ve covered men’s programs here, and women’s programs there, we’ve yet to get a two-for-one in a Spotlight; well, wait no longer. Protagonist has reached out to our Canadian friends in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the TSS Rovers organization to tell us a little bit about both their top women’s and men’s sides. Brendan Quarry, TSS Academy co-owner and Girls’ programs technical director, answered the email and sent in a few photos for us to see what they’re up to, up there.
Tell us about TSS Rovers - what does it stand for? What's your organizational mission? When were you founded and when did you add your top men's and women's teams?
TSS Academy has been around since 1997. We are the most established soccer academy in the province of British Columbia. In addition to providing supplemental training in our indoor soccer facility, we also run a soccer club called TSS FC, which started in 2011. We have girls’ and boys’ teams ranging from U11-U18. As an evolution of TSS FC, we wanted to have a level of adult soccer to which our youth players could aspire. That's what started the TSS Rovers. We purchased a PDL franchise from the Washington Crossfire back in late 2016 and fielded our first Rovers men's team in the spring of 2017. A year later, we decided to do the same on the female side and purchased a WPSL franchise for the spring of 2018.
How many of your youth players transition to the top squads? Are you dependent on that development funnel or do you bring in polished men and women players from outside the program to fill out your rosters?
In our first year of the PDL, we weren't able to transition any youth players since our oldest boys’ team at the time was U15. But in our 2019 season, we were able to field 3 of our youth players ranging from 15-16 years old. Obviously, they weren't starting players at that age but they were able to get invaluable experience training with the men's teams and getting some playing time minutes. In fact, our 3 youth players received 450 minutes of playing time last season. In the coming years, we plan to field more and more male players from our youth system as our oldest boys are now at the U18 age.
On the female side, we could field many more players who originated from our youth system since that part of our program has been fielding U18 players for the last 8 years. As a result, our 2019 Rovers WPSL squad had 11 of the 20 players come from our youth system ranging in age from 17 to 25 years old.
Did TSS Rovers see an increase in attendance during this World Cup year? Do you have a group of supporters outside of the natural interest from within the club?
We wish that could have been the case but no, we did not see an increase. There's a real challenge in our soccer community to get people interested in supporting soccer beyond the immediate interests of their own child's participation.
We do have a supporters group called the "Swangardians" in reference to Swangard stadium out of which the Rovers play. These supporters use to attend Whitecaps games when they played out of Swangard stadium before they joined the MLS. When these supporters heard about the Rovers bringing soccer back to the iconic stadium, they came out in support with much fanfare. I've attached a photo of the Swangardians.
Which league do your men play in and what league do the women play in? Do you put those on par in terms of relative competition? Do both squads get equal travel accommodations?
The Rovers men's team play in USL 2 (formerly PDL). The women play in the WPSL. The WPSL is considered a tier 2 league since the only league above it is the NWSL professional league. USL 2 is considered tier 4 since there is USL League 1, US Championship, and then MLS in that order. That being said, we now have the CPL (Canadian Premier League) which is having its inaugural season. That is the Tier 1 Canadian league so the Rovers men are just below that.
The teams get equal accommodation but the women's league has half the number of games in the playing season so it's more manageable financially.
Have you had any players or coaches move on from TSS Rovers to play in a fully professional organization? Have any coaches taken the reigns elsewhere and manage their own clubs?
Yes, we had 3 players from our Rovers men's squad selected into the CPL, which is a significant achievement. So, in reality, we had some players step directly from USL 2 into the status of professional soccer player. None of our coaches have left the club.
Generally speaking, do clubs have an obligation to job placement or helping players advance to new opportunities? Do TSS Rovers help young players find colleges or trials with professional clubs?
The vast majority of Rovers, both men and women, are either already playing university level soccer or they're graduates of that level. We do a great deal to help our U17-U18 players play at that level. In fact, over 90% of our grade 12 players have been recruited to university level soccer. In terms of professional clubs, our main goal is to push these players to higher levels of the game. We regularly communicate with CPL coaches on the progress of players. In fact, our Rovers coaches attended the CPL combine last year.