Members of the Whitecaps FC and SSA announce a player development partnership on Jan. 6, 2017.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Saskatchewan Soccer Association (SSA) have developed an official player development partnership.
This creates a path for Saskatchewan's young soccer players to compete at a higher level.
"I wish something like this was in place when I was growing up," said Whitecaps player Brett Levis, who grew up in Saskatoon. "It's such a great opportunity for the young athletes to see a clear pathway to the pros."
Even though Whitecaps FC have had an academy in Saskatoon since 2013 and in Regina since 2015 they never had a formalize partnership with the SSA.
"It was just the situation because Sask. soccer was doing such a great job," said coach of the academy, Bryce Chapman. "With these partnerships, you have less potential of players falling through the cracks."
President of Whitecaps FC Bob Lenarduzzi said making these feeder systems will get Canada back to the world cup.
"Development is all about time, you don't just snap your fingers and make it happen," he said. "When I think about the NHL you know the pathway to the pros, in our sport in Canada you don't know the pathway unfortunately and hopefully this helps."
Last time Canada made it was 1986 when Lenarduzzi actually played for the team.
"It creates more pathways for kids like me to reach our dreams," said Matthew Hnatiw, a current Whitecaps FC academy player in Saskatoon. "I really look up to Brett Levis, if he can do it, I can do the same thing."
The Whitecaps FC academy cent network has 19 locations in eight provinces.