League1 BC Officially Announced, Launching Next Year
The long-rumoured arrival of League1 BC is finally official: British Columbia now has an official semi-professional league set to kickoff in May 2022.
The newly-announced league has yet to reveal its inaugural clubs or official league branding, though public council notes from North Vancouver gave a glimpse at one of the potential founding clubs in Altitude FC.
Much like League1 Ontario, the similarly-titled League1 BC labels itself as a bridge between youth and professional soccer. At the moment, there is no timeline for when its first clubs will be announced, though the arrival of the league itself has been largely expected since 2019.
On behalf of the BC Soccer Board of Directors, I’d like to congratulate everyone who has played a part in developing this project. This level of play has been a strategic objective since 2016. Although the process and strategy has changed over time, I’m extremely proud that we are able to launch both a male and female division from the beginning and can’t wait to actually watch games next spring.BC Soccer Executive Director Jason Elligot
Two publicized looks at early League1 BC information leaks seem to indicate that there will be a minimum of six u-23 players on the pitch at once during league play, with a maximum of six players on a professional contract whom will have a maximum individual salary of $5,000 each. It looks like League1 BC clubs will be capped at three international players, though official roster rules have yet to be released.
Whitecaps Sporting Director Axel Schuster had also stated that his MLS side would be aiming to launch an affiliated team within the league, with former VWFC head coach Marc Dos Santos telling us that League1 BC would help fill a crucial gap in competitive development for the club’s youth players:
For me, it is better to start there than to keep doing what we are doing. At least we can have our young players playing against men and environments that have a standing, because I’m a true believer that at the age of U-17 or U-19, the kids have to be developed with a certain amount of pressure for results. They have to. At least as a 17 year old, because then you start feeling what it is to be a pro and the importance of three points.Marc Dos Santos
BC Soccer describes the the semi-professional division as a ‘high-performance adult league’, with BC Soccer Director of Operations Gabriel Assis stating that the league will fix a missing layer in the province’s current developmental system.
The provincial soccer body states that it will scale up operations for the league over time, developing partnerships that will evolve into a national strategic alliance for leagues of similar level (read: League1 Ontario and PLSQ).
On that note, League1 BC is expected to eventually see its champion gain one berth into the Canadian Championship. It is unknown if there will be a qualification system in place for the inaugural season.
Eastwards, League1 Ontario is enjoying a period of growth that is seeing increasingly ambitious expansion bids along with high-profile ownership investments, too. With the launch of a professional top flight national domestic league in 2019 and today’s unveiling of a new semi-professional league out west, it’s a good time for Canadian football.
BC Soccer seems to be zeroing in on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and the Interior for its founding clubs, noting that over time League1 BC will expand to reach more communities from around the province.
There will be a minimum coaching certification required to coach in the new league, along with as-yet-unknown venue and gameday experiences standards.
With League1BC now looking set to officially kickoff next season, it’s a landmark moment for football in British Columbia. Northern Tribune will post more details as they emerge.