The endless hours of training Rhys Sloan has done here at Townsend Park and at other places has paid off with an invite to join the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy team. (Chris Sloan photo)

The endless hours of training Rhys Sloan has done here at Townsend Park and at other places has paid off with an invite to join the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy team. (Chris Sloan photo)

Chilliwack’s Rhys Sloan invited to join Vancouver Whitecaps Academy soccer squad

Though the teen has recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, it hasn’t held the soccer star back

The last 24 months have been challenging for Chilliwack soccer star Rhys Sloan, which made him even happier to get a recent email from the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The teenager had a smile on his face as he read an attached letter from Dave Irvine, the director of the Whitecaps Academy, inviting him to join the team next year. The Whitecaps Academy is the top level of youth soccer in the province, and Sloan will be training at the National Soccer Development Centre, located on the campus of the University of British Columbia.

“I am obviously so excited and thankful for this opportunity,” the 2007-born youth said.

That Sloan has done what he’s done is remarkable, given how sick he’s been for much of the time. Throughout 2020 and 2021 he spent countless hours traveling back and forth from Vancouver Children’s Hospital, getting more tests and needles than he’d care to count. Between a colonoscopy and abdominal MRI, and meetings with the gastroenterologist, Sloan has definitely been there more far too often.

RELATED: Chilliwack soccer standout Sierra Bergen selected for Whitecaps REX program

RELATED: Chilliwack’s Katie Lampen signs pro deal with Spanish club FC Malaga City Femenino

The end result was a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, a tough but manageable outcome.

According to Wikipedia, Crohn’s Disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. At the time of his diagnosis he had lost almost 10 pounds and hadn’t grown at all in two years, so he was just happy to figure out what was wrong.

Right now he is getting injections every two weeks, which is tough for a kid with a needle phobia, but he continues to overcome every obstacle thrown his way.

“It’s been really tough being sick,” he said. “But I am determined to not let it stop me and I’m thankful for answers and that I’m starting to feel better.”

Sloan is currently traveling to Burnaby five days a week for soccer. In February 2020 he was selected from his Surrey United BC Premier Soccer League squad to attend a tryout for the Pre-MLS program. He impressed enough to be chosen for the full Whitecaps Academy program, which is an exciting opportunity.

The program starts Aug. 15 and Sloan will be moving closer to the city and living with a billet family. He’ll be training four days a week and if the border re-opens, the MLS Next season will start Sept. 11 with Sloan hitting the pitch on weekends to face teams hailing from Seattle to Utah and places in between.

“I prayed really hard and I’m so happy and greatful to have this opportunity,” he said. “Making it into this program has been one of my goals and I’m really excited to be going, and having to leave home just makes me want to work harder to be successful.

“My long term goals are to play soccer professionally or get a college/university scholarship and become a physiotherapist.”


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on

chilliwacksoccer

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

Vanessa Dueck.
Snapshots of a Chilliwack father from his loving daughter

Father’s Day memories of special moments shared together

Rachel is a six month old Labrador retriever cross who was found at large. She is seen here at the Chilliwack SPCA on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Rachel at the Chilliwack SPCA

6-month-old puppy found at large, now at Chilliwack SPCA, needs special home

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read