Chilliwack’s Sierra Bergen has been selected to join the full-time Vancouver Whitecaps women’s REX (Regional Excel) program, one of just 25 teenagers chosen from all of Western Canada.
The 2006-born star will live the soccer life as she goes to school for Grades 10-12 in Burnaby and trains daily with other top prospects.
“I am so thrilled to have made the Whitecaps REX team because I have worked so hard for this,” Bergen said. “And I am going to keep working hard.”
Indeed, Bergen overcame long odds to get this far. At the start of 2018 she described herself as “a good player, but nothing special.”
“I knew I had to work hard to be the best and to be a difference maker in games like (Lionel) Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar (da Silva Santos Júnior),” she said.
Bergen started traveling into Vancouver to train at Volf Soccer Academy, calling it “the best thing that could have happened to her.”
“The training was intense, the coaches pushed me like no other coaches would and the training got the best out of me,” she said. “I worked hard and pushed myself every practice.”
She also practiced and played with Surrey United in the BC Premier Soccer League, and said coach Adam Day had a huge impact on her development. In her off hours she worked out on her own.
Bergen was disappointed when she tried out for Team BC in 2018 and didn’t make it, but that just fueled her more. As the year continued she got better and better. The improvement continued through 2019 and 2020 and in February of 2021 Bergen earned herself an extended tryout with the Vancouver Whitecaps Pre-Elite team.
“I practiced with them for several weeks and got to know everyone on the team,” she said. “On my last day of the three week trial, I figured it was my last chance to show them that I deserved to be there. We had a inter-squad game and I scored five goals.”
She was invited to stay with the Pre-Elite squad and just two weeks ago she found herself in a zoom meeting with coaches Chris Sargeant and Amy Harrison, getting her REX invite.
“After they said I made the team my whole body filled with joy,” she said. “I could not stop smiling and I was trying to act calm, but it was hard to contain all of my joy.”
The REX program starts in September, with Bergen going to school at Burnaby Central. She will be training from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Monday to Friday at Burnaby Lake Sports fields, with two strength and conditioning programs added after school.
The program puts Bergen on the pathway to the Canadian national team. Not too long ago, Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema took the same path and is now representing her country in international matches and playing pro soccer in France.
“The next step for me is to be one of the best on the REX team and to be picked to go to India with the Canadian U17 team in 2022,” Bergen said. “I would be an underage player (she’s 2006, others are born in 2004 and 2005), so it’s going to take a lot of work. Eventually, I hope to make the Canadian women’s team, and lastly, my longer-term goal is to join a club team like Paris St-Germain (Huitema’s team), Man City, Barcelona, or Liverpool.”
With her work ethic and never-say-die attitude, who would bet against her?
“When I was younger, I was always a goal scorer, but I was not the fastest, fittest, or most skilled,” Bergen said. “But I have worked on all of that to become the player that I am today, and I will continue to work to be the best player that I can be.”