Another product of the Langley United Youth Soccer Association has joined the ranks of Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Vaggeli Boucas, son of Langley United president Betty Boucas, was recently accepted into the Whitecaps FC’s residency program.
The 15-year-old Boucas joins John Kasper, 14, as LUYSA alumni now in the ’Caps’ development program. Profiled in the Aug. 23 Langley Advance [Centre back joins Whitecaps FC fold], Kasper is involved with Whitecaps’ pre-residency.
According to Whitecaps FC, its residency program “is a full-time, fully funded, player development program unlike any other in North America. “
Situated in Burnaby, the program is designed to maximize a player’s potential through a “soccer lifestyle” philosophy, which links technical and personal development, the club stated.
Boucas, who plays both the centre back and central midfielder positions, captained Surrey United’s U16 squad that competed in the B.C. Premier Soccer League this past season.
His Surrey United coach Frank McCann said Boucas is a likeable, hard working player who is willing to learn.
“He is very coachable and has great leadership skills,” McCann said. “As a person he is a fine young man with high standards – always respectful.”
McCann said Boucas will continue to be “very important” to Surrey United’s success as the team prepares for the national youth championships in P.E.I. this October.
The coach sees nothing but good things ahead for Boucas.
“If Vaggeli continues his current path, I see a very bright future in soccer and in life for him,” McCann said. “He has the drive and the ability to a be a professional player. He also has the emotional strength to succeed.”
Boucas started off under the LUYSA umbrella, playing for Langley United in the metro division from U14 to U16 before joining Surrey when he turned 15.
This past July, Boucas and the U16 B.C. provincial team placed second to Ontario at the national championships in Newfoundland.
Boucas and the B.C. team lost 2-0 to Ontario in the Canadian final.
“I’m pretty sure from there, that’s where they were watching me from the Whitecaps,” Boucas said.
Boucas described the quality of play as “really high” at the national tournament.
“You had to perform every game,” Boucas said. “You had to play at 110 per cent all the time. You had to bring your all.”
This marked Boucas’s fourth year playing on B.C. provincial teams. He’s represented his province from the U13 to U16 age groups.
The lean, fit Boucas brings leadership skills to the pitch, which comes part and parcel with a position that usually places him the centre of the field.
“A captain is usually a central position – either a goalie, a central defender or a central midfielder – and usually someone who directs everyone on the field,” Boucas said.
Being accepted into residency has the potential to open up several windows for Boucas, who turns 16 Oct. 11.
“Right now, I’m on the under-16 Whitecaps FC team,” he explained. “But there are three other teams: there’s the under-18 division, the Reserves, and the Whitecaps’ first team. At any time, if you’re performing well, you could be selected to move up. It’s based on how hard you work and how much you improve. I like that challenge.”
Boucas’s priority is to get a U.S. scholarship and he would love a university degree.
He added, “if I could get a professional contract, that would be good, too.”
Vaggeli joining Whitecaps residency translates into a lot of extra clicks on the Boucas family car’s odometer. Boucas attends Grade 11 at D.W. Poppy Secondary, and has to leave school each school day at 1 p.m. to make it to the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex for the 2:30 p.m. training sessions on time.
Several Whitecaps residency players attend Burnaby Central Secondary to be closer to training, but Boucas chose to remain near home.
Balancing school and training will require a crash course in time management.
“I just have to manage my time a lot better, and keep up my grades and stuff,” he said.
Training takes place five days a week. Mondays and Wednesdays usually require physical work to get fitness levels up, Boucas said, while Tuesdays and Thursdays often involve technical training.
“I’m assuming Fridays are going to be light training session seeing that we have a game on the weekend,” he said.
And every Tuesday and Thursday, Boucas has to be at his school at 7 a.m. for a morning workout before classes begin.
Betty Boucas said both the Langley and Surrey associations have played major roles in her son’s development.
“The majority of his coaching have happened in Langley and with the provincial teams,” she said.
Coaches who have had hand in shaping Boucas into the player he is today include Jamie Booth – who introduced him to the metro program, and helped him develop as physically, tactically, and mentally – Rob Csabai, Dante Zanatta, Michael Findlay, McCann and current Langley United technical director Mark Parker.
“When I first started the provincial program, he [Parker] really helped me and brought out a lot of my abilities as a player,” Boucas said. “That’s where I progressed onto the National Training Centre.”
Betty said Vaggeli is ready for the challenge of Whitecaps residency status and to see where soccer can really take him.