At 18, David Broadhurst’s twin brother, Neil, was offered a pro contract with hometown Derby County FC Rams. The brothers played a similar style and Derby only wanted one of them.
Instead of holding a lengthy pity party, David turned his focus to coaching and earned a sports science degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.
He’s been studying and coaching the beautiful game ever since and has just been named the Vancouver Whitecaps’ regional head coach in charge of growing academy centres and camps. He is overseeing the newest Caps’ academy, in Nelson.
“I’ve got good experience that I can offer, not only as a coach, but as a player so the players can relate to that,” said Broadhurst, a tall and skinny 35-year-old with a military haircut.
“From a style of play, we wanna develop possession players, players that are comfortable with the ball and confident on both feet, and technically sound.”
Broadhurst has been working with Whitecaps FC in Vernon for the past three years building both academy and camp programs while also providing services to the North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association (NOYSA). Vernon’s school academy starts next week.
Whitecaps’ director of youth development Dan Lenarduzzi told The Morning Star he noticed Broadhurt’s leadership and teaching qualities at a Vernon field on a scouting trip a few years ago.
“David is a great on-field coach, but he’s also got a really great character and he gets along well with both boys and girls,” said Lenarduzzi. “Professionalism is there too so he kind of fits the mould of a Whitecaps’ coach and a Whitecaps’ person.”
Still a huge Derby County backer despite another losing season in the English Championship League, Broadhurst realizes most soccer campers in the region have never heard of his team. He will try to change that culture.
“Players here are really naive tactically and need a better knowledge and understanding to play games at a higher level, and that’s what I think I can give to the players here.”
He will ask a player if they saw a game on TV and they will reply “What game.” However, he can get several hands raised if he asks who went to a Vipers hockey game.
Born in Calgary, he moved to England with his family at age two. From the first time he kicked a ball, his goal was to one day turn pro.
“The rejection (by Derby) was hard because my twin brother was actually kept on and I was very competitive, so at the time, it was disappointing but that’s a big part of learning how to deal with disappointment and it just made me determined to stay in sport.”
Being a Canadian helped him get a job with NOYSA five years ago.
“Dave has brought the professional level of soccer to Vernon on and off the field,” said Marina Korberg, executive director of NOYSA.
“His knowledge of the game and his ability to share that knowledge with the players and coaches make him one of the most sought after coaches in the region.”
The down-to-earth, well-spoken Broadhurst stumbled across the Okanagan on a trip and chose to set up shop.
“I just fell in love with the place and it was right place at the right time, and the Whitecaps were just starting to do stuff here, and the rest is history.”
Feeling very lucky to have a job he loves, Broadhurst also tells soccer parents they are fortunate to live in a province with a pro team which is so committed to player development.
The Major League Soccer (MLS) is gaining prime-time TV exposure and increased fan numbers while attracting more world-class players.
“The level in the MLS, in the five years I’ve been here, has really improved. Martin Rennie has them playing some really solid soccer and they’ve brought in some really good players.”
Broadhurst said while his father, Robert, a welder, encouraged him to become a pro, “he never put me under pressure and was always very supportive.”
Korberg and academy coach Claire Paterson, who also guides the UBCO Okanagan Heat ladies team and replaces Broadhurst as NOYSA technical director, also get big props from Broadhurst.
“I’ve got so much out of working with Marina and Claire. Their support’s been fantastic. I’d never really worked with female players before so I’ve actually developed as a coach by working with Claire and with female players. It’s a different game.”
Broadhurst has his UEFA B coaching certificate and has been making treks back to England working towards his A ticket. He previously ran soccer schools and programs for Manchester United, South East Derbyshire College and Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools.
In 2007, he worked on an international coaching project in Switzerland, in partnership with Manchester United’s principle sponsor, AIG.
The Whitecaps build elite soccer players through academies, pre-residency (U13, U14 and U15) and residency (U16, U18) programs.
Broadhurst will monitor players with the Whitecaps and their reserve team in mind, while maintaining a realistic mandate. Not everybody is going to play in the MSL.
“We wanna get people enthusiastic about the game, passionate about the game whether or not they’re going to play the game the rest of their lives. Hopefully, they support the Whitecaps the rest of their lives. If we can develop fans out of this, that will be a big part of it. It’s not just developing players; it’s about the whole picture.”
Broadhurst will be based out of Kelowna.