What a difference two years can make.
Victoria Highlanders Football Club looked to be the latest victim of Victoria’s unforgiving sports landscape at the end of 2014 before being purchased from then-owner Alex Campbell Jr. by Victoria’s David Dew and Marvin Diercks. The pair took a leap of faith, acquiring the Highlanders brand and going to work immediately to field a team in the British Columbia-based Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL).
After just one season in the PCSL, the club turned heads when it was announced it would make a return to the Premier Development League (PDL) for 2016, the top amateur soccer league in North America.
The Highlanders are seeing expansion again in 2017, fielding three programs this Spring and Summer. In addition to the PDL squad, the club will also feature a PCSL Reserve squad and have introduced a Futures program, designed to create an additional bridge for player development that also includes an Academy program. While Dew admits the first year as an owner in the PCSL required a “pretty minimal amount of work”, things have certainly changed.
“I think in this instance, because of what we’re doing with both the PDL and PCSL teams and adding a Futures program, we’re actually becoming a club again,” Dew remarked. “It’s all well and good to have one team and be in the market as a team, but how do supporters get behind one team?
“I don’t think supporters, fans, casual supporters or sponsors, all those different realms of people you want to be involved with, want to be involved with just one team, I think if people can see the work that is being put into all these teams and how we are trying to expand then there is something here that they will want to get behind.”
The growth of the club has required additional help behind-the-scenes, with several members of the local Victoria community assisting in all aspects of the club’s operations. While a challenging endeavour considering Dew and Diercks have restructured the club as a volunteer-based organization, Dew sees the growth as a necessity.
“You have to grow,” Dew added. “You have to have a basic club structure and more than just one team, where the benefit is only to 20 or 24 players. The club has to have more involvement in the community. Our number one goal is to try and raise the profile of the game in Victoria and leave a legacy of sorts. The other is to give something back to the local community.”
Highlanders FC open their 2017 PDL season on May 14 at Centennial Stadium against Lane United FC at 2:00 p.m. PST. For 2017 tickets, please click HERE or visit www.highlandersfc.ca for more information.
ABOUT VICTORIA HIGHLANDERS FC
Victoria Highlanders FC is a Canadian soccer team based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The team was founded in 2007, competing in the USL Premier Development League through the 2014 season. After a season in the PCSL, the Highlanders returned to the PDL in 2016.
ABOUT THE PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE
The proven developmental leader in North American soccer’s evolving tiered structure, the Premier Development League features 72 franchises in four conferences throughout the United States and Canada, including 16 clubs that are owned and operated by a professional club, or that hold a partnership with a professional club. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with nearly 70 percent of all MLS selections since 2010 having PDL experience.