Learning from the best
Whiteway’s Dillon Brown to train in Vancouver with MLS team
Dillon Brown of Whiteway loves soccer and practices on a regular basis in St. John’s through the city’s minor soccer association. Last spring, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced a special partnership with the provincial soccer association, and now Brown is one of 32 youth set to travel to British Columbia next month to work with Whitecaps staff on improving his game.
Dillon Brown dreams of one day tying on his cleats to suit up for a professional soccer team. For now, he’s cool with honing his skills with the St. John’s Minor Soccer Association.
However, the boy from Whiteway is in for something entirely different when he travels to Vancouver next month as part of a Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA) contingent. There, they’ll get to work directly with staff from the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club. The professional team competes in Major League Soccer (MLS).
Last spring, the Whitecaps announced details about its new partnership with the NLSA. It allows the team to monitor the top players from the province and work with them over time.
The establishment of a Whitecaps FC Academy Centre in St. John’s offers additional training opportunities for young players motivated to advance their skills and play at a higher level. Whitecaps FC youth players have in the past been selected to play for Canadian national teams.
“First when I did hear (about the partnership), I was kind of excited because I was thinking to myself, this could give me more, or I’ll say, a better opportunity to become a professional soccer player,” said the 12-yearold Dillon, a Grade 7 student at Crescent Collegiate in South Dildo. “Because that’s what I’d like to do.”
Brown, currently a member of the provincial under-13 boys team, is one of 32 players making the trip to British Columbia. It will mark his first visit to the opposite end of Canada. The weeklong trip runs March 18 to 25.
“It was just before Christmas,” recalls Dillon, asked when he first learned about the trip. “We had a meeting and we really only found out then that we were going on a trip. I was really excited about that.”
Once in Vancouver, Brown will get to partake in prospects training exercises and receive pointers from experienced coaches working within the Whitecaps’ system. Chances are, he’ll recognize some of the people there, as Whitecaps officials frequently visit St. John’s to work with them.
While in B.C., Brown hopes to learn a lot and grow as a player.
Currently a right-back defender, he’s adept at manoeuvring around opponents and moving up with the play when necessary.
Last year, Brown got a taste of MLS action in person when the under-12 provincial team travelled to Montreal for a national tournament. There, the entire team got to watch a live match featuring the Montreal Impact Football Club.
“It’s a lot bigger than on TV,” Brown said of the experience.
“We had a meeting and we really only found out then that we were going on a trip. I was really excited about that.” — Dillon Brown
“I enjoyed it a lot more than I would sitting on my couch eating my bag of chips or whatever. It was an awesome experience, really. There was a big old crowd there, and it was a really tough game. The last second (Montreal) scored too.”
Between the trips to St. John’s for soccer, school and music (he’s received attention at the local Kiwanis Music Festival and performs live on the fiddle with his younger sister Shana), Brown has a busy life. But he copes well. He can look after homework on the car rides to town, and his family makes sure music doesn’t conflict with his soccer schedule.
Later this year, Brown will suit up for the under-13 team for Atlantics in Corner Brook.
Dillon Brown completes a drill during a practice with the Avalon male Summer Games soccer team in 2016.
Dillon Brown of Whiteway, sporting a Vancouver Whitecaps jersey.
The Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club is a professional soccer team that competes in Major League Soccer.