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Nautsa’mawt FC Departs League1 BC

By on November 6, 2023 0 1526 Views

After making a splash in 2023, Nautsa’mawt FC will not be renewing its League1 BC license for the upcoming year.

While the news will prove devastating for football fans who saw plenty of promise in the club’s accomplishments both on and off the pitch in 2023, the team itself will not be folding.

The move comes after the club ran into ‘significant unanticipated challenges’ following Hope and Health’s acquisition and rebrand of the club. Continuing Varsity FC’s strong momentum from the season prior, there was plenty of positivity as the club began granting Indigenous players the chance to shine, securing high-profile sponsorships, and doing plenty of community outreach through Hope and Health, the Vancouver Whitecaps, and collaborations with Indigenous artists, too.

Nautsa'mawt FC Chris Lee
Photo Credit: John Schwirtlich / Rivers FC

The 2023 League1 BC season saw their men’s side finish just one spot outside of a playoff position, while the women’s side finished second in the league before losing out to Unity FC in the semi-final stage. It was a strong and respectable performance on the pitch, but ultimately Hope and Health found the significant investment required to operate in League1 BC did not prove viable for the organization.

While Hope and Health has now split the thread between Nautsa’mawt FC from League1 BC, it still intends to run the club in order to offer support, mentorship, and experiences to local athletes facing systemic barriers. A source within the club says that the team will continue to partner with the UBC Thunderbirds Women’s soccer team, along with other amateur and professional teams, in regards to this.

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League1 BC recently put forth a call for expansion club applications, though it remains to be seen whether the league will shrink back to its initial size of seven clubs (Harbourside United had joined this year), or if new organizations will be stepping in for the year to come.

The club’s exit from League1 BC also makes them ineligible for the Canadian Premier League’s downward player movement project, which had allowed Pacific FC to send young talent like Eric Lajeunesse to get game-time in Canada’s third tier before he broke into the first team setup back on the Isle.

While it’s unfortunate to see Nautsa’mawt FC go forth on its own without League1 BC, the club will still aim to carry on its original mission.

Header Image Photo Credit: Tom Ewasiuk / AFTN

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