Liam Mackenzie, a 13-year-old soccer talent from the Comox Valley, is making his mark at a Vancouver Whitecaps academy.
A centre attacking midfielder who played with the Victoria-based Vancouver Island Wave in the B.C. Soccer Premier League, Liam was invited to the BMO Pre-MLS (Major League Soccer) Academy in Burnaby. He trains and plays with the Whitecaps U14 team during the school year. The squad has been playing against older premier teams and in tournaments.
“So far, he has been one of our top performers,” academy head coach Bart Choufour said. “Liam is calm on the ball, very composed and has a good drive forward from the midfield, regularly coming into the opponent’s box…He also is a great student of the game, working hard and smart in training.”
Liam is a Grade 8 student at Walnut Grove Secondary in Langley, where he lives with the family of a teammate in the U14 program.
“It’s really good, I’m having lots of fun,” said Liam, who attends the academy five days a week.
While the Wave was “an amazing organization,” he said the Whitecaps program presents a different level of soccer.
“I’m playing the same teams that I was two years ago, just with the Whitecaps instead,” said Liam, who played a year higher than his birth group with the Wave. “The practices are super competitive. Every single day, everyone wants to win.”
Despite the commitment required to attend the academy, Liam found time to tryout for the Walnut Grove basketball team — which he made.
“They kept more people because of COVID. That’s going to be fun, too.”
If he continues next year with the academy, Liam would attend University Hill Secondary in Vancouver because the
BMO MLS Academy switches to the National Soccer Development Centre training facility at the University of B.C. for players 15 and older.