You do anything repetitively and you’re bound to get a little tired of it.
But not when that activity is soccer, and not in the case of John Kasper.
The 14-year-old Langley resident expects to consume a steady diet of “the beautiful game” after he was accepted into the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Pre-Residency program.
“It’ll be full-time, five days a week,” Kasper said. “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and games on Saturday. And we’ll be travelling. On Labour Day weekend, we’ll be going to Seattle to play in a tournament.”
Kasper expects the move to pre-residency be a relatively smooth one, because he’s grown accustomed to playing a lot of soccer.
“I’m already used to it,” Kasper said.
As a full-time member of the program, Kasper has graduated from the community club system and will now train and play exclusively with the Whitecaps FC.
Quite an honour for Kasper, a towering (for his age) centre back who played for coach Scott Howey’s Surrey United Premier U14 team that competed in the B.C. Premier Soccer League this past season.
“The season went very well,” Kasper said. “We won the league. In October, we are going to Vaughan, Ont. for the nationals.”
Surrey United, which included 12 Langley players as well as Howey and manager Terry Chmelyk, edged rivals Coquitlam Metro-Ford 1-0 in the BCPSL U14 final earlier this summer. The lone goal was scored by Langley’s Noah Owen.
Howey said Kasper was an integral part of Surrey’s success, but was quick to point out he was one of 18 who helped the team achieve its goals.
Howey described Kasper as a “leader, on and off the field.”
“He commands the field well and organizes the defense around him. He has strong one-versus-one defending qualities and is good in the air,” Howey said. “As a person John is a very mature, hard working and focused individual that expects the best from himself. He is very determined to succeed in everything he does.”
Kasper’s centre back role with the team is similar to a shutdown defenceman in ice hockey.
“It’s the centre of the defence,” Kasper explained. “Basically, I see all the play and I talk a lot. And, defend, really. If the ball gets by the midfield, it’s our job to stop it.”
Height works to the 5’11” Kasper’s advantage.
“I like playing physical,” he said. “Obviously [height] helps me out, and in the air.”
Watching his older brother Graham and sister Anna play soccer inspired Kasper to move to the back line.
“I don’t know: I just tried it out and I loved it,” Kasper said.
Seventeen-year-old Graham plays for the U18 BCSPL team representing Coquitlam Metro Ford. He is in the process communicating with universities in the U.S. for post secondary academic and athletic pursuits.
Anna, 20, played locally up to her Grade 12 year.
As for the youngest sibling in the Kasper family, his skills didn’t go unnoticed by Whitecaps’ FC. For the past year, ’Caps’ staff evaluated players for the pre-residency program.
The process included scouting players in the ’Caps’ community club, programming, the BC Soccer provincial teams program, National Training Centre and the April 2012 player combine.
The team’s staff also spoke to coaches and others who gave their perspective on potential pre-residency players.
The next step up from pre-residency is Whitecaps FC Residency, a full-time high performance soccer development program for a select number of players.
According to Whitecaps FC, program highlights include:
• Full-time, fully funded soccer development with a professional MLS club;
• Participation in top leagues (USSDA), tournaments (MLS events), and international tours;
• An integrated player support system that includes a comprehensive sport science and medical program, education and lifestyle support; and
• A Club development pathway from U13 pre-residency to the MLS First team.
Howey said Kasper can’t let his level drop, now that he’s part of the Whitecaps’ program.
“In fact, he will have to work twice as hard to stay in the program,” Howey said. “However, getting to know John over the past few years, I am fully confident in his ability and know he will rise to any challenge thrown his way.”
If John continues to learn and improve and apply himself the same we has for me, then I am confident he can put himself in a good position to achieve his goals.”
Speaking of goals, long-term, Kasper would like to take soccer as far as he can.
“Hopefully college or university in the States, playing Div. 1 soccer, and hopefully get drafted into the MLS, or Europe, maybe,” he said. “I just need to work my butt off to get there, and stay on top of my homework.”