The inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League is underway, with two games already in the books for Pacific FC. The club’s opening week of games featured six Canadian players under the age of 21, a goal from a 19-year-old and a debut for 17-year-old Ahmed Alghamdi.
With one eye on the 2026 World Cup, The CPL implemented a league-wide rule stating that each team have at least three players aged 21 or under. With an emphasis on youth development, a combined 1,000 minutes of game time is required by the end of the season for these players.
After just two games, Pacific is well on its way to meeting those requirements. Over the course of last week the club’s group of U-21 players have combined to register an impressive 861 minutes.
Pacific’s U-21 group includes Kadin Chung and Noah Verhoeven, who each put in full ninety minute shifts in both Sunday and Wednesday’s games. Teammates Terran Campbell, Matthew Baldisimo and Jose Hernandez also added significant minutes of their own with over 100 minutes each through Sunday and Wednesday.
Pacific’s youth are making an immediate impact as well. A corner whipped in by 19-year-old Verhoeven in Pacific’s inaugural game was met by Hendrik Starostzik’s head to snatch all three points against HFX Wanderers. Verhoeven’s teammate Hernandez made his professional debut this week, highlighted on his full debut on Wednesday night after he headed in his first professional goal.
On the back line, recent signing Émile Legault was joined by U SPORTS Draft Pick Zach Verhoven in making pro debuts, with Legault registering a full 90 minutes at centre back in replacement of an injured Hendrik Starostzik. Signed just 24 hours prior to Wednesday’s game, 17-year-old midfielder Alghamdi also made his debut. Alghamdi, a dual citizen from Saudi Arabia and Canada entered the field as the youngest player in the Canadian Premier League.
The League’s platform for developing young Canadians is being fully embraced by Pacifc FC, and if the opening two games of the club’s season are any indication, it’s safe to say the future is bright.