1751 Savage Road, Richmond, BC

Valentine Nurtures Grassroots


There are few soccer figures in Canada better known than Carl Valentine. Born in Manchester, England, Carl played 31 times for Canada including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico - the only time Canada has ever played on the game's biggest world stage.

Between 1979-84, Valentine played for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the notorious North American Soccer League (NASL). Over his career, Valentine played against players such as Michel Platini, Franz Beckenbauer, and Johann Cruyff. Few players in this country, if any, have had that kind of distinction.

When asked about it today, Carl just shakes his head and smiles. "Those were different days for sure," says Valentine. "It's hard to believe now but soccer was the biggest event in town back then. The old Empire Stadium regularly packed in 30,000 fans to watch the Whitecaps play."

Carl Valentine was nothing short of a celebrity in Vancouver - not to mention the entire country. In 1992, Valentine was voted Most Popular Athlete in the Vancouver Sun. His photo was a regular fixture in most every sports section.

Those who watched the games back then have fond memories of watching Carl Valentine. Flavio Infanti was 10 years old at the time and remembers anticipating every game. "Valentine was one of the most exciting players to watch," says Infanti. "His speed was explosive. When he got on the ball, you knew something exciting was going to happen."

Valentine goes to great lengths to downplay his fame as a player. "There were lots of great players back then. I had some pace and I worked hard. I think the fans responded to that. Canadians always respect a hard worker."

Valentine prefers to talk about what he's doing today which is coaching youth players at TSS Player Development Academy in Richmond. "Coaching young players is something I enjoy and something I'm passionate about," says Valentine. "I feel I have something to contribute to these young players, something that will hopefully help develop their abilities in the game. I loved playing the game and I believe the better you become as a player, the more joy you get from the game."

The program that excites Valentine the most is his involvement with Sportstown FC. This new indoor soccer club is strictly for U7 players - boys and girls. Valentine will be overseeing the entire program as the Technical Director on behalf of TSS.

"When I coached on the North Shore, we often spoke about building an indoor facility," says Valentine. "Here at TSS, we have a terrific indoor facility so what better program to run than a program for very young players. It gets them out of the rain and allows them to play and train in a positive environment."

Valentine goes on to explain. "These 6 year olds will be separated into teams and assigned a permanent TSS coach. On Saturday mornings, they'll play games at the indoor facility in a similar format as the community soccer clubs. Then once a weeknight, they'll have a training session in the facility. I'm really looking forward to it."

Of course, these 6 year olds won't know that they're being coached by the famous Carl Valentine. They may be puzzled when their parents ask for his autograph.

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