A young soccer superstar is blooming in the Sea to Sky.
Whistler's Alex Feuz, 12, was honoured as the Whitecaps FC Academy's boys' player of the year for its Sea to Sky school on Nov. 25. The female winner was Mary-Beth White-Bothe of Squamish.
"I was a bit surprised," Feuz said. "It's really fun and it's helped me a lot in soccer. The coaching is really good."
Academy head coach Graham Murphy praised not only Feuz's ability, but his attitude as well.
"Alex is very committed. He's very coachable, and we see improvement in him in every session. The biggest difference that I would say we've noticed in him since he's joined the Whitecaps is he's learned the Whitecaps' way to train," Murphy said, noting the training sessions mimic a game pace. "He's mentally focused, he's mentally tough, he's physically developing and his playing habits are improving."
Another of Feuz's positive attributes is his ability to think ahead, Murphy said, as he is better at anticipating the play than his peers.
"He's a very dynamic and visually aware player. He's also very intelligent. He can follow the game, which is something that we really coach in the academy, recognizing triggers in the game," he said. "It puts him in position to take advantage of the different moments in the game."
The Whitecaps FC Academy, which is affiliated with the Vancouver Major League Soccer squad, has only been operational for a year, but Murphy said Feuz has been to every session. He also takes part in additional Sunday training in Vancouver and in the four-day residency camps based out of UBC.
Additionally, Feuz is looking to make the B.C. Soccer Premier League's (SPL) Mountain United squad.
"It's really challenging but also helps me a lot," Feuz said.
Murphy said two of Feuz's teammates with the academy are also trying out, and to make the side would be an accomplishment after recently playing on rep teams.
"It's a massive leap for him," Murphy said. "That's a massive testament to the academy and also to players like Alex that they can make that leap from this area.
"To go from playing on a representative team to play in the B.C. SPL is a massive leap and for him to not look out of place and get asked back is a testament to Alex's development."
Feuz is deployed as a midfielder, and Murphy said this allows coaches plenty of flexibility in what he can do on the field.
"In the formation he plays, he could play as a holding midfielder or he could play as an attacking midfielder," Murphy said. "You could put Alex pretty much anywhere, but based on his visual awareness and his intelligence and understanding of movements within the game, he's an ideal midfielder."
Though he's still years away, Feuz dreams of someday going pro and following in the footsteps of Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, a Polish player known for finding ways to put the ball in the net.
For more on the Whitecaps FC Academy, visit www.whitecapsfc.com/youth/programs/sea-to-sky-academy.