Learn­ing from the best

White­way’s Dil­lon Brown to train in Van­cou­ver with MLS team

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Dil­lon Brown com­pletes a drill dur­ing a prac­tice with the Avalon male Sum­mer Games soc­cer team in 2016.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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