Soccer players who want to take their skills to the next level have options through an ongoing association with Upper Island Riptide teams. Based out of Comox, the organization’s teams play in the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL), the second highest tier of competitive youth soccer in BC.
“It’s a great opportunity for players to improve and play at the next level,” said Tony Leach, technical director of the Powell River Youth Soccer Association (PRYSA) and current coach for Riptide’s U15 boys’ team. “The players who go on to Riptide love soccer and want to enjoy the game at the highest level they can.”
Logistics of living in Powell River and playing on Vancouver Island provide some challenges.
“There are 14 Powell River players currently with Riptide, five girls and nine boys across four age divisions,” said Leach. “We meet for practices twice a week, and work on anything their coaches have told me to, as well as general soccer skills.
“The teams spend the first half of the season playing a tier, which gives them a chance to integrate these players, then the second half of the season is a ranking and playoffs. By that point, the teams are used to each other and play well together.”
Playing for Riptide is a big commitment for young people and their families.
“The game schedule isn’t always coordinated with the ferry schedule,” said Leach, “and there are games every weekend, so the time commitment is big, but for them it is important to play and learn at a higher level.”
Riptide players from Powell River are a delight to work with, according to Shel Brodsgaard, Riptide’s technical director.
“The players are tuned in and work extremely hard in a competitive and friendly manner, which is refreshing,” said Brodsgaard. “They are keen to learn and improve.”
Brodsgaard also had high praise for Leach.
“We’re thrilled to have Tony coaching Riptide’s U15 Boys team this season,” he said. “He is also running the weekly Powell River training sessions, and the players couldn’t ask for a better coach.”
Leach, who has a long history of playing and coaching soccer at all levels in Powell River, appreciates the opportunities coaching for Riptide offers him.
“Riptide uses cameras and films, playbooks, and write-ups of the games to help coaches understand what worked and what didn’t,” said Leach. “It’s great to get that kind of feedback, because it helps both players and coaches develop and gain skills.”
Leach recommends trying out for Riptide to any youth player who wants to see what is available for them in higher level soccer.
“It’s a great place to play, gives you opportunities to share great trips and make new friends, and offers good coaching and feedback on skills,” he said. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of time and commitment, but the payback is well worth it.”
For information about Upper Island Riptide, go to riptidesoccer.ca or contact Leach at 604.485.4568 (PRYSA) or 604.414.5031 (mobile).