A premier Penticton youth soccer player is hoping for news next month that will land him in the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS residency program.
Braden Malcolm, 12, who plays with the Thompson Okanagan Football Club (TOFC) recently took part in a five-day camp in Richmond from which about 20 players will be selected for a spot in the residency curriculum.
That program is similar to hockey academies where the players live in billeted homes and attend school together while developing their skills in a structured soccer environment.
Having played in the Penticton Pinnacles program for the past seven years the centre-back, who is a Grade 7 student at KVR Middle School, was selected last year to join the TOFC of the B.C. Soccer Premier League.
It is one of eight teams in the province — one each from the Interior and the Island and six from the Lower Mainland.
“It was really cool,” said Malcolm about the Richmond camp, where he played for the B.C. team against six other squads from across Canada. “I was playing against the hardest teams I’ve ever played against. I feel like when I play against people my own level it raises my game and I play better.”
The B.C. team finished with a record of three wins and one loss.
The purpose of the camp is to influence and identify players from across the country in the U13 and U14 age groups with a like-versus-like competitive match outlet.
Last November Malcolm was also invited to a B.C. Soccer camp in Vancouver which was dedicated more to skills development.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was five and just fell in love with it, I just love everything about it,” he said.
And he actually prefers to play in a defensive position.
“If you ask 10 kids if they would rather score goals or prevent the other team from scoring goals I feel like 90 per cent of the kids would say I like to score goals, but I’m in that 10 per cent that would rather stop them from scoring,” said Malcolm.
And if he does get chosen for the Whitecaps residency program he added: “It would be amazing, moving would be hard, leaving my family but I think over the course of time it would get better and I would be living my dream.”
His favourite teams are Manchester United and the Whitecaps and his favourite player is Carles Puyol (retired, Barcelona). He hopes one day to follow in those shoes and become a professional soccer player.
It’s something his mother Bonnie feels he has a good shot at.
“He is a very nice, mellow kid but he gets on the field he’s just a pit bull,” she said with a laugh.