Members and friends of Langley United boys and girls youth soccer enjoyed a memorable evening at BC Place last month.
During the second annual Langley United Youth Soccer Association Appreciation Day on Aug. 11, the Whitecaps faced off against western conference rivals Real Salt Lake and came out with a 2-1 victory to delight the home crowd.
Just as importantly, as part of the festivities, more than 70 Langley boys and girls participated in pre-and in-game activities, including retrieving the ball when it went off the field or up in the stands, acting as pre-game flag bearers and player escorts, and more.
"Once a year LUSA is awarded a Whitecaps game for the youth of LUSA to get an up close and personal look at professional soccer players and a Whitecaps game," said the club's Whitecaps coordinator James Stumph, a volunteer who organizes the entire event on behalf of Langley United.
Stumph noted that Langley United also sold tickets to parents and people in the Langley soccer community to support the kids as they fulfilled their duties.
"Overall, we sold a total of 530 tickets to family, friends and supporters to watch the game and Langley's kids in action," Stumph reported. "It was a fantastic show of support from the Langley soccer community."
This was more than just watching a game.
"The pre-game player escorts get to hold the hands of their favourite players; the ball retrievers feel the wind off the players as they run by," Stumph said. "This game is a wonderful way of allowing these kids to get very close to the professional soccer they see on TV or from the stands. The crowd cheering you on as you walk out of the tunnel with a Whitecap, the pride you feel as you hold the Canadian flag as 20,000 sing in joyous song, and to hold the hand of your hero walking out onto the field. Pretty exciting day for our boys and girls and for their parents and family as well of course. Combined with a home team victory, it gets to be a magical day."
Langley United thanked Hugh Hamilton, soccer ambassador for the Whitecaps who, with his team, gathered 70 Langley children into groups to enter the stadium.
For more on next year's Whitecaps LUSA appreciation game or on buying $20 tickets for any remaining Whitecaps home games, email email@example.com.