Bill Merriman - Whitecaps Academy Coach

July 5th, 2015

Whitecaps ink top Nanaimo coach
VIU Mariners manager will head up the Major League Soccer club’s upper Vancouver Island academy
By Ross Armour
Nanaimo Daily News

 

One of Vancouver Island’s most prominent soccer coaches will now team up with the biggest club in western Canada. 

Bill Merriman has been announced as Vancouver Whitecaps’ Upper Island head coach for the club’s Island Academy Centre, which runs out of Nanoose Bay as well as Nanaimo. 

Merriman will now roll his current Merriman Soccer program into the Whitecaps academy and work with players from as young as eight years old all the way up to 17. The primary objective of the academy is to create a streamlined development process for players who will potentially be part of the Vancouver Island Wave setup in the B.C. Soccer Premier League initially vefore moving on to the Whitecaps’ residency squad and subsequently its first team in the long run. Both Merriman and Whitecaps director of soccer development Dan Lenarduzzi have said negotiations between the two parties have been going on for more than a year. 

“I’m really pleased about what’s happening with soccer here and look forward to teaming up with the Whitecaps,” said Merriman. “I felt this was the best way to create that streamlined pathway for players.”

The VIU Mariners men’s coach will now also be tasked to scout players throughout the Upper Island region to join the academy. 

“It’s about helping to develop players and getting them to a level where they can move on to the residency squad and the first team eventually — that’s our number one goal.”

Right now, the academy will only run camps for the players invited, but Merriman says he has hopes of creating competitive teams and fixtures next year. 

He says he will also call on the likes of Victor Blasco to come the academy to help inspire the players. 

Blasco played under Merriman as part of the Mariners team that finished second at nationals last year and then moved on to the Whitecaps FC 2 team. 

“I’ve always really enjoyed developing youth players and helping them get to the next level. Ever since I’ve been in Nanaimo, that’s always been my goal,” Merriman said.

Lenarduzzi described Merriman as an icon of Island soccer. 

“Since the Island academy was created three years ago, we’ve always known of Bill’s prominence and his own program,” said Lenarduzzi. “He’s very well respected, the timing was now right and we’re excited to have him on board.”