The UBC Okanagan has joined forces with the Okanagan Challenge Soccer Club to assist in the development of the top-level men’s soccer players in the region.
The Okanagan Challenge will continue to play in the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL), a national amateur men’s soccer league, which features teams from B.C. and the Northwestern U.S.
The goal of the university and the Challenge arrangement is to give UBC Okanagan Heat players an opportunity to continue to develop in a quality league.
This year’s version of the Okanagan Challenge will be a mix of UBC Okanagan players and players who have been part of the Challenge in previous years.
An important part of this venture is the placement of Heat head coach, Dante Zanatta as bench boss of the Okanagan Challenge. Zanatta sees this arrangement as way to keep a solid core of the university players together longer, as the PCSL season runs from May until August.
When the PCSL season ends, Heat players will head right into their university training camp. The Heat season runs September through the end of October.
“This is a great opportunity for us to work with a wonderful organization that has a strong history of providing a high-quality soccer program to the community,” said Zanatta.
“The arrangement will allow me to be part of that tradition, and at the same time, continue to develop the UBC Okanagan players for a longer period of time. The players can come into the university season fit. They can come into the season understanding the systems of play and the style we want.”
Zanatta looks forward to working with the Challenge, adding: “The work the Challenge has done in the past has to be commended and applauded. When you look at high-level soccer in the region, this arrangement is a natural fit. It is a win-win for both the Challenge and UBC Okanagan, and will only help with the university’s goal of getting it into Canada West.”
In his first year coaching UBC Okanagan, Zanatta took the Heat program to new heights, culminating in the most successful men’s soccer team in school history. He coached the team to the provincial championships for the first time ever, coming away with a bronze medal.
Tryouts will start in early April, with most practices at Nonis Sports Field, on UBC’s Okanagan Campus, home of the Heat. Home games will be held at the Apple Bowl, home of the Okanagan Challenge and also at Nonis Sports Field.