Print Edition: April 1, 2015
The Vancouver Whitecaps announced last week that they are adding three new players to their FC2 team. One of those players happens to be UFV Cascades goalkeeper Mark Village. Mark is a fifth-year history student and will be graduating at the end of the upcoming fall semester. The Abbotsford native has played five seasons with the UFV Cascades men’s soccer team and has won numerous awards during that time, including Bronze Medal in Canada West (2013), Second Team Canada West All-Star (2012), and UFV MVP (2012). Mark will be joining the Whitecaps FC2 for their inaugural season in the United Soccer League.
So you were recruited at a Whitecaps training camp?
Well, they invited me out to the training camp. Alan Errington has resources everywhere and thought I would be a good fit for the Whitecaps, and there was an open tryout. I kind of bypassed that right into the training camp.
Were you expecting to get signed on when you went to the training camp?
Absolutely not. Obviously it’s high-calibre soccer and I’m not in the best of shape and not in the best of form, so I was kind of going there just wanting to have a little bit of fun. I ended up having a lot of fun, but as I was having fun I ended up playing pretty well, so that’s how that went.
What was the recruitment process like?
I just got invited to the training camp and from there they evaluated me with all the other trialists that were there. On, I think it was five or six days into it, they made big cuts. It started off with 35 people and they cut it down to a core 17 or 18, and then they made further cuts into there. There’s only really 15 or 16 guys that actually made the final roster, just because they pull people down from the first team to play as well.
What was your reaction when you found out you made it?
I was shocked — just the fact that they saw potential in me. They said there are some things to address like my fitness and all that, but I was glad that they saw potential in me and they took a chance and they signed me. I was definitely shocked — and excited.
When did you find out that you were signed?
They don’t really tell you much when you’re on trial. They tell you a little bit here and there, and like I said, there were big cuts five or six days in. After that big cut I kind of wanted to know where I was, and the coach approached me, thankfully, and he said, “We’re looking to have you on as one of the keepers.” How he explained it to me is that there’s five goalkeepers in the club, including the first team. So there’s David Ousted, Paolo Tornaghi, Marco Carducci, Spencer Richie, and then myself. He said essentially I’m the fifth goalkeeper of the two teams.
What’s the difference between the Whitecaps FC and the FC2?
It’s two different leagues. It’s a brand new thing this year. There’s the first team, which they play in the Major League Soccer (MLS). They play in that league and then the Whitecaps 2, they play in a league that was pre-existing called the United Soccer League (USL). It’s a professional league as well, but the new thing this year is that they incorporate the MLS second teams, but there are still priority teams like the Rochester Rhinos who are not associated with an MLS team. There’s lots of the teams within the USL. It’s actually a pretty cool setup that they have there.
Do you have any other plans other than professional soccer after you graduate?
Originally the plan was just to finish up school and try and apply to get into PDP somewhere, like a teaching setup. For right now, I’m happy just playing with the Whitecaps and riding that out as long as I can and seeing how far I can go with that. You can always go to school afterwards, right? So right now, I’m still doing school and trying to finish up my degree and then after that we’ll see where life takes me after the Whitecaps.
How do you balance your schedule between school and soccer?
It is a little bit crazy. I’ve had to talk to some profs this week because the training for the Whitecaps is in Burnaby so I’m commuting every single day because we train six times a week, basically. There’s games and that, too. They usually give us a day off. I’ve had to talk to some professors to try and get time off and gain their understanding of where I’m at. For the most part, they’ve been understanding at getting me to hand in assignments and stuff like that. It’s been tough. Just because I’m commuting every day and there’s obviously meetings and the training sessions and stuff with the Whitecaps. I coach as well, which is another source of income for me, so I’m balancing everything right now.
What do you coach?
I actually coach goalkeepers in a club called Fraser Valley FC. It’s a local club. It’s basically Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, kids from there. I coach in Langley primarily.
What’s been your favourite memory of playing soccer at UFV?
There’s too many. Playing for Alan Errington, the head coach here, he’s really given me all the opportunities to play well and he’s always had that belief in me to play well. It’s a big memory, but I loved playing for Alan Errington. Every second I stepped on the soccer field was a lot of fun just having him as a coach.
How did your experiences at UFV help prepare you for the recruitment process?
Well, going back to Alan Errington, he was a professional coach. He actually coached the Whitecaps previously so he incorporated a very professional attitude on the soccer field and off. It was a similar transition from UFV into the Whitecaps. Obviously with the Whitecaps, there’s a little bit more dynamics. There’s more media stuff, there’s more fitness, nutrition, all that sort of stuff. But it was a good start at UFV to have that professional attitude going into a pro club. It was a very easy transition.
Do you have any advice for UFV athletes that want to play professionally?
I would say just keep working hard and listen to the coaches because they actually know what they’re talking about. Just enjoy your playing. You can see everyone at the Whitecaps, they all enjoy playing. There’s rarely any negative attitudes and they all just enjoy playing the game. If you enjoy the game, just keep on enjoying it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.