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Four Island soccer players going to Vancouver Whitecaps FC camp

Marinos Papageorgopoulos, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy Centre director and associate head coach, was recently in Prince Edward Island working with players and coaches. From left are Papageorgopoulos, Elias Bitar and Lewis Page, P.E.I. Soccer Association’s manager of high performance.
Marinos Papageorgopoulos, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy Centre director and associate head coach, was recently in Prince Edward Island working with players and coaches. From left are Papageorgopoulos, Elias Bitar and Lewis Page, P.E.I. Soccer Association’s manager of high performance.

STRATFORD, P.E.I. – Elias Bitar is looking forward to competing with some of the best soccer players his age from across the country next week in Vancouver.

The 14-year-old Charlottetown native is one of four players going to a Vancouver Whitecaps camp. Madison Hurley, Caitlyn McCloskey and Colin Curran are the other players heading west.

Bitar has three older brothers who have all played provincially and are still involved in the game. Simon is playing with Prince Edward Island’s Canada Games squad, Noah is a UPEI Panther while Liam is with the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

“It’s really helpful. They’ve pretty much taught me all the way up and motivate me to do better,” Elias said.

Now the Grade 9 student at Stonepark Intermediate School is looking at showing his skills to the Whitecaps staff. Bitar said he expects the competition level to be high, but is confident in his own skills.

“I’ve played against some of them at nationals. I kind of know what to (expect),” the centre midfielder said.

His brothers have told him to enjoy the experience, do his best and he will be fine.

Bitar and other Island soccer players have recently had a chance to practice for Marinos Papageorgopoulos, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy Centre director and associate head coach.

The P.E.I. Soccer Association (PEISA) and the MLS team announced a partnership in 2016 to provide a pathway to develop top players.

Papageorgopoulos said the association’s staff has a great handle on programming and he is looked forward to the partnership.

“I think the fact we’ve got the players now a couple times a week training is only going to help improve the players’ technical abilities,” he said. It will “give players a fair opportunity and get them on the same playing field in terms of players from across the country.”

The four athletes will have a chance to practice and play games while in Vancouver. It will also, Papageorgopoulos said, give the Island kids an idea of the standard required to play at the next level.

“For them to be able achieve that, they need to understand it,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for the players to be exposed to that type of environment.”

Bitar loves the game and is looking at the long term.

“I’d love to go all the way and see if I can play professional,” he said.

And what team would he like to play for?

“I feel like Whitecaps would be where I’d want to go,” he said, smiling.

The 14-year-old Charlottetown native is one of four players going to a Vancouver Whitecaps camp. Madison Hurley, Caitlyn McCloskey and Colin Curran are the other players heading west.

Bitar has three older brothers who have all played provincially and are still involved in the game. Simon is playing with Prince Edward Island’s Canada Games squad, Noah is a UPEI Panther while Liam is with the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

“It’s really helpful. They’ve pretty much taught me all the way up and motivate me to do better,” Elias said.

Now the Grade 9 student at Stonepark Intermediate School is looking at showing his skills to the Whitecaps staff. Bitar said he expects the competition level to be high, but is confident in his own skills.

“I’ve played against some of them at nationals. I kind of know what to (expect),” the centre midfielder said.

His brothers have told him to enjoy the experience, do his best and he will be fine.

Bitar and other Island soccer players have recently had a chance to practice for Marinos Papageorgopoulos, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy Centre director and associate head coach.

The P.E.I. Soccer Association (PEISA) and the MLS team announced a partnership in 2016 to provide a pathway to develop top players.

Papageorgopoulos said the association’s staff has a great handle on programming and he is looked forward to the partnership.

“I think the fact we’ve got the players now a couple times a week training is only going to help improve the players’ technical abilities,” he said. It will “give players a fair opportunity and get them on the same playing field in terms of players from across the country.”

The four athletes will have a chance to practice and play games while in Vancouver. It will also, Papageorgopoulos said, give the Island kids an idea of the standard required to play at the next level.

“For them to be able achieve that, they need to understand it,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for the players to be exposed to that type of environment.”

Bitar loves the game and is looking at the long term.

“I’d love to go all the way and see if I can play professional,” he said.

And what team would he like to play for?

“I feel like Whitecaps would be where I’d want to go,” he said, smiling.

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