The season has come and gone, and despite the looming shadow of BC Soccer’s internal power struggle, it has been a very successful first season for League 1 British Columbia, with Whitecaps Fc winning the woman’s championship, and TSS Rovers winning the mens championship. Success breeds more success, and the next natural step for the seven-team league is expansion, particularly away from the Greater Vancouver area, and into other parts of the province.
While I certainly don’t expect five teams to join the league next season, here are five possible locations for League 1 BC expansion, in order of what I think would be most preferred by the league.
5. Nanaimo – Population 99,863 (2021)
Allegedly already tipped to be receiving an expansion team for next season, Nanaimo is known as Vancouver Island’s second city after Victoria, and is a city on the rise with a growing population. With Victoria already having a team, the opportunity to have a Vancouver Island rivalry is surely too great for the league to pass up.
The strong presence of Nanaimo United Football Club combined with the success of Pacific FC means that the city is already familiar with the sport, giving a L1BC side every chance to succeed in the Harbour City.
Possible name: Harbour City FC – Harbour City FC is the nickname of Nanaimo, owing to its location on the ocean, and has been fully embraced by Nanaimo. It’s a name that would immediately bring the locals onside, and continues the tradition of L1BC sides having names that often don’t feature the name of the town or city the side plays out of.
4. Kelowna – Population 144,576 (2021)
The largest city in British Columbia’s interior, Kelowna seems like a very obvious choice for League 1 BC, and has even been touted as a possible expansion city for the Canadian Premier League. Kelowna is located in BC’s Okanagan region, and has many other Okanagan towns around it, such as West Kelowna, Vernon, and Penticton, making it a perfect hub in the area for a team.
Just like how Nanaimo would be a natural rival with the already existing Victoria Highlanders, a team from Kelowna would be bonafide rivals with Rivers FC of Kamloops, the second biggest city in BC’s interior, and only around a two-hour drive away.
Possible name: Kelowna FC – Kelowna is famous for Orchards and Wineries, and is home to much of the wine and fruit that is grown in British Columbia. It’s also famous for being situated on the Okanagan lake, where the mythical Ogopogo sea creature lives. There is a lot of possibility for natural nicknames to form with this team, which is why I’ve opted for a neutral name to allow the fans to embrace a nickname for the team.
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3. Prince George – Population 74,003 (2016)
The largest city in northern BC, Prince George would be a real signal of intent in making L1BC a truly province-wide league. If the logistics of having a team five and a half hours away from the nearest team (Kamloops) would work, then bringing pro-am soccer to Prince George would be great. Prince George is in the Fraser-Fort Goerge area, and has plenty of towns surrounding Prince George to help give the team a bigger support market.
Possible name: North United – Pretty self-explanatory, the most northern team in the league and would give the team the chance to own the label of being the toughest place in the league to get to.
2. Comox Valley – Population 66,527 (2016)
Found in the northern part of Vancouver Island, Comox Valley includes the town of Comox and the city of Courteney. Courtenay is also near the city of Campbell River, which with its (2016) population of 35,138 would significantly ad to the areas viability. The north part of the island can often be overlooked when compared to Nanaimo and Victoria, and a L1BC team would give people in the area the chance to get behind a local team, rather than any Victoria team or possible Nanaimo team.
Potential name: North Island Rovers – Again pretty explanatory, the name would apply to the area the team is based on in the island and make it stand out against any other Vancouver Island team.
1. East Kootenay – Population 65,896 (2021)
The most eastern part of the province, East Kootenay is a region of BC defined by the Rocky Mountains would really stretch out the L1BC map. The main part of the region is the city of Cranbrook, which despite its size of just 20,499 is the epicentre of the region and has good transport links to other towns and cities like Fernie, Kimberly, and even places further out like Creston in Central Kootenay. Perhaps in a world where Rivers FC are joined by teams from Kelowna and or Cranbrook, the three sides could organise an in season cup competition to decide the best side in the interior?
Potential name: Kootenay FC – Another simplistic name, this would allow the side to market itself across the whole region, the regions vast mountains, lakes and logging mill industries provide plenty of opportunity for fans to come up with their own nicknames for their side.
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