Maple Ridge soccer coach lands with Romanian pro club

The West Coast Auto Group Football Club is losing technical director David Shankland to a European pro side.

The West Coast Auto Group Football Club is losing technical director David Shankland to a European pro side.

He has been appointed reserve team head coach of CFR Cluj of Romania.

CFR Cluj is a storied professional side, and currently the reigning Romanian champions. The squad participated in the UEFA Champions League earlier this season and was tantalizingly close to qualifying for the round of 16 following a brilliant 1-0 win against Manchester United at historic Old Trafford.

“It’s very difficult to get into Europe,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for me.”

Shankland will lead their reserve or second team which will play in the Romanian third division. He will be tasked with preparing the next generation of players for the first team.

The club will have 34 players signed, and he will work with young players, generally aged 18-20, as well as older fringe players in the organization for depth.

“My style is very attacking-minded, but I’ll be sitting down the head coach and see what he’s looking for,” he said.

As technical director for WCAGFC, Shankland oversaw the creation of the club’s curriculum, which provided detailed player development plans applicable to every player in the club from three-year-olds to adult programs.

“We are happy to see that David’s abilities have been recognized and rewarded with this prestigious position,” said Chris Begg,  WCAGFC president.

“As the architect of our club’s curriculum based on the Canadian Soccer Association’s Long Term Player Development model David will leave us with a lasting legacy that will directly benefit future generations of players with WCAGFC.”

He said the club also looks forward to the future relationship with Shankland at Cluj, providing potential opportunities for players.

Shankland said he has a professional soccer background, including Youth Team Manager for the Scottish club Arbroath.

“I have very much enjoyed my last 14 months in as technical director, and it has been a very difficult decision to leave West Coast Auto Group FC at a time when I see such a bright future for the club,” he said.

“However, opportunity allows me to return to professional football and the challenges that go with it, which I can honestly say that I have missed. It will also be a new adventure for our whole family. I will look forward to a long lasting relationship with West Coast Auto Group FC.”

He has also worked for B.C. Soccer, and had his own soccer school in 10 years in B.C.

Shankland said opportunities for elite soccer players are rare in Canada. Coaches prepare youth players to be ready to compete against their American counterparts, but unless they are good enough to play for the MSL teams such as the Vancouver Whitecaps, there is nowhere for them to go. The MLS teams carry only a few Canadians.

“It’s a very frustrating place to be involved in football, to be honest,” he said.

“The talent is here, there’s just nowhere for it to go.”

“We need a Canadian league.”

He will open doors to allow coaches and elite players to visit Cluj.