Craig Dalrymple will be in Maple Ridge for a discussion with parents about high performance soccer. (Contributed)

Craig Dalrymple will be in Maple Ridge for a discussion with parents about high performance soccer. (Contributed)

Whitecaps’ Dalrymple part of soccer panel in Ridge

High Performance Pathway and Grassroots information session set

Soccer parents who have questions about how to best develop both their child’s talent and love of the game are being invited to a special night with some high-calibre soccer evaluators.

The Vancouver Whitecaps Craig Dalrymple, the academy technical director and an interim first-team coach last year, headlines a group that includes Mike Shearon (TWU men’s head coach), Rob Giesbrecht (UFV women’s head coach), Chris Laxton (Douglas College women’s head coach) and Paul Turner (B.C. Soccer – grassroots director).

The High Performance Pathway and Grassroots information session is being organized by Neil Turner, who is the technical director for West Coast Auto Group FC.

Turner said he and others in the club had been considering the best ways to educate soccer parents in the association. He made it a priority when he recently read the B.C. Soccer 2018 Player Retention Survey. It noted that youth soccer hit a peak in 2008, and in the decade since has lost 100,000 players across Canada.

The survey found that the majority of those surveyed played soccer for the love of the sport, and cited playing with friends and making friends as things they like about the game. Less than one in five cited competition or development as main reasons to play.

Yet many parents are taking their children as young as seven years old to clubs outside of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. seeking more competitive teams.

“I’ve never had a seven-year-old come up to me and say ‘This environment isn’t competitive enough for me,’” said Turner.

He noted that the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows association begins tiering children according to their skill level at the age of 10, but other clubs in the region are beginning that process earlier. Some parents are attracted to that.

But they are taking their kids away from their friends – one of the reasons they say they want to play.

“Eight-, nine- and 10-year-olds are traveling out the district with aspirations to get ahead in this game,” he said. “We’re driving our kids out to higher performance, but we’re also driving them away from the sport.

“You’ve got to build the passion for the sport in kids, and get them to want to come to practice.”

The event will be held on May 14 at Westview secondary, in the multipurpose room, at 7 p.m. This is a free event for adults only. Parents whose children are not registered with WCAGFC are also welcome.

Turner said there definitely comes a time when players showing elite talent should seek the most advantageous development path. The purpose of the event is to communicate the high-performance pathways available in B.C. and in the local area.

“We are honoured to have several people, from the high performance field, talk about preparing players for higher performance,” said Turner. “We will also, and more importantly, inform parents on how they can best help their children enjoy and grow their passion for the game. One of the main goals of the evening is to help parents understand the various opportunities and also their responsibilities. We will bring emphasis to the grassroots player and their pathway to enjoying a lifelong involvement in soccer.”