A bad week for Chilliwack FC got worse with the resignation of Glenn Wilson.
With the youth soccer club already reeling from a BC Soccer investigation into an alleged bullying incident involving technical director Roger Torres-Jaramillo, Wilson handed in his resignation letter March 23.
“It goes beyond that and well before that, with the direction of the club over the last couple of years,” Wilson told The Progress. “The direction they want to take doesn’t mirror the direction I would want to see it go.”
Wilson said he has seen Chilliwack FC trend away from grassroots and more towards ‘elite’ training, accompanied by higher fees for developmental players.
“This is just my perspective, but I think there’s a vast community out there that is probably finding that playing in the club as it is right now is getting a bit too expensive,” he noted. “I’ve always felt that soccer needs to be an all-inclusive sport that’s accessible to everybody, and it’s getting less and less accessible in my view.
“As a head coach or technical director, if my philosophy isn’t shared by the club, it’s a recipe for disaster. The club is set on a certain direction and I wish them the very best of it, but I just don’t feel I can be a part of it.”
Wilson had been with CFC the last 12 years. He was the club’s technical director for years, until Torres-Jaramillo assumed the role last September and Wilson moved into a new role as CFC’s head coach.
Wilson was on board with the idea at the time, saying the dual role of technical director/head coach was “all consuming.”
He looked forward to spending more time on the field and less time on administrative work.
“But in hindsight, since it was implemented, it’s really important that the technical director and head coach are on the same page and share the same vision. I quickly came to feel that we didn’t, and it was going to be difficult to be successful in that partnership,” he said.
Chilliwack FC’s current direction was charted with the help of Capitis Consulting Inc., which conducted a survey of membership and helped CFC craft a strategic plan. That eight-page document with 33 action points was released in 2021, covering the years 2021 to 2025.
Wilson feels that process captured the feelings of a segment of CFC, but didn’t reflect the feelings of the entire soccer community.
CFC chair Andrea Laycock said CFC is growing and is in a transitionary period where it’s “re-identifying itself.”
The club recently announced the achievement of Canada Soccer’s Quality Soccer Provider designation. The designation is part of Canada Soccer’s Club Licensing Program, which is designed to guide member organizations throughout the country toward best principles for organizational development both on and off the field.
“It’s not like the old days where parents just signed their kids up, showed up at the field, they played and went home,” Laycock said. “They want more, and we need to find that balance of providing the kids that want more those opportunities while also maintaining something for the kids that just want to show up and play on Saturdays.
“That’s where we’re at, trying to find that balance.”
Laycock questions the notion Chilliwack FC is moving to an ‘elite training model,’ but she does want higher level players to have more opportunities to stay home and receive high-end training.
“We always hear about kids that leave the club to go play elsewhere at a higher level, and we’re very proud of those kids because we helped them get there,” Laycock said. “But we’d like to get to the point where we don’t have to send them to those other places.”
The elite vs grassroots conversion is everywhere in youth sports, and Chilliwack FC is losing a good coach over it.
Wilson said he’ll stay involved in local soccer in some form, and Laycock called it a “sad day for the club” seeing him go.
“Glenn has meant a lot to this club and it is a part of the club’s transition,” she said. “He set us on the path that hopefully we can continue going forward on and it’s really unfortunate. He’s been an incredible mentor to some incredible athletes who’ve come through our system, and whatever’s next for him I wish him nothing but success.”