The story of Vancouver Island is defined by its dramatic and contrasting environments – both a vibrant and youthful community that has transformed itself into a thriving tech hub, and a lush old-world town that welcomes tourists and government officials alike.
Its downtown core may seem worlds apart from Port Hardy’s wilderness and jagged rocky shoreline, but the Pacific Ocean still connects all the people who call Vancouver Island home. From the crashing waves along the West Coast, to peaceful inlets, harbours and gulf islands, it’s the massive Pacific that attracts visitors to the beauty, wildlife and weather of Vancouver Island.
The Pacific climate allows for year-round recreation, making Vancouver Island a natural hub for many Canadian international footballers. Without George Pakos, Ian Bridge, Ken Garraway and other players from the region, Canada’s 1986 World Cup story may have never been written – their qualification process began in Victoria, after all. Other notable players from Vancouver Island of this era include Bob Bolitho and adopted Islanders Bruce Wilson and Buzz Parsons. Their legacy lived on through athletes like Martin Nash, Nick Gilbert and Adam Straith.
Pacific FC owners Josh Simpson, Rob Friend and Dean Shillington are driving the vision of the club and the community by creating a culture of excellence.
Simpson was raised on the island but had to seek opportunities away from home to establish his playing career post University of Portland. When the Canadian Premier League opportunity emerged, the idea of giving future local professionals with a Vancouver Island option was too important to pass up. Simpson’s experience abroad, background in finance and infectious energy is a huge value to the club.
Friend is another Canadian international who had to leave home to pursue opportunities overseas. It was in the German Bundesliga where Friend became fascinated by the influence of supporter culture and stadium atmosphere. Beyond providing more chances for Victoria Island players, Friend’s desire to create an intimate soccer experience is the motivation behind his own passion for Pacific FC. Friend and his former Canadian international teammate Simpson will help guide the on-field club identity while also helping to establish a winning club culture.
Shillington, CEO of Knightsbridge Capital, is a fan of every type of sport and competition, especially when the Canadian National Team is involved. Shillington’s background in finance and marketing alongside his understanding of the CPL business structure will be a great addition in building a sustainable club in Vancouver Island.
Pacific FC’s stadium in Langford has undergone many transformations over the previous 20 years thanks to a visionary mayor from a multi-generational local family (Stewart Young). The revival started with a simple idea of creating recreational spots, and the people will come. One of the spaces is Westhills Stadium, which is undergoing major renovations to be the home of Pacific FC. The venue will increase seating capacity from 1,500 to 7,500 and will offer a VIP zone with modular lodge and corporate suites. The stadium will also transition from its temporary modular design to a more permanent fixture.
Launching a club from the beginning allows for the creation of a technical philosophy that will endure, no matter which coach is on board. The fundamental theme is that our club must inspire supporters through hard work, determination and an urgency to go after every ball. The type of player that wears Pacific FC’s crest will also value the beauty of the game, while also possessing a toughness that players from the area are known for.
The core philosophy of Pacific FC will be reflective of our community and represent the values of its people. Striving to create an exciting footballing atmosphere is the primary objective that will energize all aspects of our club. For this to happen it requires a culture built on optimism, tireless work and enthusiasm that reflects the Victoria and progressive development that is happening all over Vancouver Island. Pacific FC will evolve, innovate and create a history that the community and Islanders can be proud of.