The UBC Okanagan Junior Heat Soccer program will be a partnership between the Kelowna United Football Club and the UBC Okanagan Heat soccer program that will enhance the development of the region’s soccer players for high level play.
KELOWNA, BC - To further expand program offerings within the community, the UBC Okanagan Heat are very excited to announce a partnership with Kelowna United Football Club to create the UBC Okanagan Junior Heat Soccer program.
The vision of the program, according to Mark Krehel, President of Kelowna United, is to merge two great institutions of soccer in Kelowna into a cohesive unit.
“What UBC Okanagan and KU working together will be able to provide to the Valley,” explains Krehel, “is a high-quality soccer program where aspiring young soccer players can take their game to the next level, in a challenging yet rewarding environment, with other like-minded players in the region.”
For the Athletics Department, this partnership is based on UBC’s Place and Promise plan to serve and engage the community. The soccer program will join already successful Junior Heat programs in basketball and volleyball and continue the commitment made when the UBC Okanagan Heat joined the Canada West University Athletics Association to develop sport in the Okanagan.
The Director of Athletics and Recreation at UBC’s Okanagan campus sees a good fit with this partnership in creation of another Junior Heat program. “We are very fortunate to be able to partner with an organization like the Kelowna United Football Club that for years has offered high-quality soccer opportunities for girls and boys” said Rob Johnson. “We see this as a great way to fill a local need and to expand our Jr. Heat Program which also includes basketball and volleyball. We consider these programs as part of our mandate for community engagement and they provide an avenue for our coaches and student athletes to share their expertise and support the area’s sport community which has been so supportive of UBC.”
Dante Zanatta, UBC Okanagan men's soccer head coach and technical director of Kelowna United will oversee all technical aspects of the Junior Heat program
This past summer Zanatta joined an elite group of coaches as he earned his National ‘A’ Coaching License from the Canadian Soccer Association. The 'A' License is the highest available in Canada.
The UBC Junior Heat program will maintain its own clear and distinct identity from Kelowna United, with Zanatta overseeing the technical aspects of the program and Kelowna United handling the administration and operation of the program.
The Junior Heat soccer teams will be “project-based” in that they will be selected, train, play exhibition games and attend showcase tournaments all in a segment of approximately 6 to 8 weeks, 3 or 4 times per year. For both boys and girls, the program will create age-group teams from U10 to U18 with the U17/U18 age-group combined to create post-secondary prep teams.
This format will create 14 teams and will truly be a regional club as players from any community in BC will have the ability to participate in evaluations for selections to one of the Junior Heat teams.
Not wanting to interfere with the high school soccer schedule, the Junior Heat program will utilize a flexible scheduling model which will allow male players to play in the Fall and female players to play in the Spring.
The core of this program will be rooted in developing players for high-level soccer ranging from post-secondary opportunities at the CCAA, CIS, or NCAA levels to the national team and international competitions. To achieve this level of development the Junior Heat program will train with, and play against, top level competition from BC, Canada, and internationally.
“It’s a very exciting time for soccer in the Central Okanagan,” said Scott Jacobsen, the general manager for the Junior Heat soccer program. “Over the past few years we’ve seen a transformation in terms of player and coach development with Kelowna United. It has not just been the Kelowna United players and coaches benefited from this, the larger soccer community within the Central Okanagan has directly benefited from the player and coach development efforts from KU”.
“We’ve seen the success and positive effects on development with the UBC Okanagan Junior Heat programs in other sports and with soccer being the largest participation sport in the region, I am excited about the possibilities that open up with the UBC Okanagan Junior Heat Soccer program,”.
Krehel and KU have been tremendous assets in the soccer community and are bent on fostering a culture of growth and development amongst the over 5000 youth playing soccer in the Central Okanagan. KU is the group that built the soccer bubble on the Mission Sports Fields and they have recently joined with Valley First Credit Union to maintain that facility, which will now be renamed the Valley First Soccer Centre.
Valley First - a key sponsor of UBC Okanagan Athletics as the title sponsor of UBC Athletics’ annual scholarship breakfast that has to date endowed over half a million dollars student athlete assistance - will also enable KU to keep their program’s affordable and to provide subsidized fees for at-risk youth to play soccer.
The Jr. Heat program has already begun with a U14 Boys’ team coming together and travelling to Spain. There is a program information session on Monday May 25th, visit kelownaunited.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and tryout dates.