Soccer in Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows got a big boost recently.
Its largest organization, Ridge Meadows Soccer Club, has hired former Vancouver Whitecaps coach, Craig Dalrymple, as their new sporting director.
The organization, which was known as West Coast Auto Group Football Club until Aug. 1, was looking to align more closely with the local community, so hiring Dalrymple, who has lived in Maple Ridge for ten years, made lots of sense.
“He’s a community individual who’s raising a family here, and that really resonated with us,” said club president Mike Savignano.
Dalrymple’s credentials did not hurt his case either.
“He’s played and coached at every level, and has had great success with the Whitecaps and other sizable clubs, and so we’re really pleased to be able to bring Craig on board,” Savignano said.
He has worked as MLS Academy Director with the Whitecaps for over 10 years, and also served as interim head coach with the MLS team in 2018, and as head coach of the U23, U19, U17 and U15 squads.
During his time with the Whitecaps, Craig was instrumental in the development and recruitment of over 75 professional players, including 23 MLS homegrown player signings, and more than 25 players currently plying their trade in the Canadian Premier League.
Prior to joining the Vancouver organization, Craig spent over 10 years as technical director at Surrey United, where he played a pivotal role in transforming the club into one of the largest and most successful amateur soccer organizations in the province.
Dalrymple also spent a season coaching in the English Premier League Academy with Portsmouth FC in between the two Canadian gigs.
In addition to the extensive coaching experience, he has a six year stint playing for Ipswich Town FC of the English Football League, two National Championship appearances with Simon Fraser University, and a three year spell with the Whitecaps previous incarnation, the Vancouver 86’ers.
Standing in front of the club’s headquarters in Maple Ridge, Dalrymple said he always knew he was going to return to grass roots.
“I wanted to experience the sport at every level,” he said, recalling his experiences from coaching a U8 boys team in Langley to his previous job with the Whitecaps.
“And success at the professional and the national level is only possible when the grass roots is doing the right job.”
The new sporting director said he sees an opportunity to quickly make a difference in the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows soccer community.
“There’s a good foundation in place, and there’s a lot of good people here,” he said.
“And it’s important that we unite the community in the soccer context, and bring those people and their good ideas together.”
In the short term, Dalrymple said he plans to meet with the coaches, and stakeholders within the club to see how everyone can contribute to the organization’s success.
He said it is also paramount for him to retain and recruit high-potential people at the player, coach, and volunteer level in the near future too.
“Ultimately, it should result in an enhanced soccer experience,” he said.
“When somebody’s son or daughter steps on the field, a parent should know exactly what experience they’re going to get, what they’re paying for, and what growth they should expect.”
That experience should extend to the clubs many adult members too, Dalrymple added.
“Whether it’s a hobby and they just want to show up once a week and play, or are fully invested, and want to develop themselves to their maximum abilities, as a club we should be able to offer all of that,” he said.
“Right now there are people in this community that are leaving the area to get their soccer fill somewhere else and that should not be happening.
“You should be able to go a ten to 15 minute drive from your house and get exactly what you want from a soccer experience, and we’ll be able to provide that.”
Having spent a career overseeing the sport being played at every level, Dalrymple said he is confident he can help the club elevate themselves.
“There aren’t too many experiences in soccer I haven’t seen,” he noted, “Whether your son or daughter is ambitious to represent the country and the national team level, or whether they just kind of want to dip their feet in the water with the the sport, I can relate to all those those scenarios.”
In a moment of humility, the 46-year-old said he still considers himself a developing person.
“I still think I have more room for growth, but I do have a ton of experience and ideas I want to pass on to people.”