League1 BC Inaugural Season: Get to know the coaches (Part One)
Excerpts of the following story by Michael McColl are courtesy of the AFTN (Away From The Numbers) website from April 27, 2022. The crossover of coaches in League1 BC as in League 1 Ontario shows the strong relationship between USport, (to a lessor extent the CCAA) and the next level of play.
The inaugural League1 BC season kicks off on May 22. Seven men’s and seven women’s team will battle it out to become the league’s first champions and with the squads starting to take shape, the countdown to kick off is fully under way and the excitement is building.
Over the next month we’re going to bring you an in-depth build up to the new league on both the site and the podcast, with an almost daily selection of articles and features. We kicked things off on Friday with a quick primer on all seven teams. Next up, we’ll help you get to know the coaches taking charge, and in the first of this two part feature, we’ll look at the seven coaches at the helm of the seven men’s teams, with a look at the coaches of the seven women’s sides in part two.
ALTITUDE FC – FALY BASSE
Altitude’s men’s and women’s teams will be led by Faly Basse, a Frenchman who has called Vancouver home since 2008. A former footballer in his native France, Basse played football from an early age and came through the youth ranks with Strasbourg FC, making his pro debut with them as a teenager and was capped by the French U17 national team.
At 21 he suffered an injury that kept him out for eight months. After trialling around Europe, Basse suffered another injury that signalled the end of his professional playing career and he moved into coaching, first in London and then in Vancouver, where he set up the Faly Academy in 2008.
The Academy has gone from strength to strength and their U21 side entered the Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL), winning the BC Soccer Doug Day Provincial Men’s U21 Provincial Championship in 2018 as well as the VMSL U21 league title. Most recently FC Faly competed in the VMSL Division 1 during the abbreviated 2020/21 season before moving to the Fraser Valley Soccer League (FVSL) Premier Division this past season, where Basse guided them to a 4th placed finish.
The holder of a B level license, this will be Basse’s first taste of coaching at the semi-professional level, and with a number of long-term FC Faly players on the Altitude squad, that familiarity should help him get the best out of them in what will be a tough first season in L1BC.
RIVERS FC – JOHN ANTULOV
With Kamloops based Rivers FC affiliated with Thompson Rivers University, it was no surprise that the Wolfpack’s John Antulov was named the club’s first head coach.
A former professional player with the Vancouver 86ers, Antulov won back to back Canadian Soccer League titles with the club in 1990 and 1991, making 17 appearances across the two seasons, and had a successful college career with Simon Fraser University.
Antulov brings a wealth of coaching experience to the club after eight years as the head coach at TRU and a further seven seasons before that on the coaching staff of the Wolfpack, guiding them to a historic first bronze medal at the USPORTS national championship in 2017.
He has also been the head coach of the Whitecaps Kamloops Academy since 2013 and is a coaching facilitator with BC Soccer. He holds a Canadian National A License.
TSS ROVERS – WILL CROMACK
With over 20 years of experience in coaching in youth and adult soccer, Will Cromack returns to the helm at TSS Rovers having taking over coaching duties for the 2019 USL League 2 season. He is also the General Manager of the club.
Cromack’s playing career saw him spend five years at UBC Thunderbirds, winning four national championships, and he was on the books of the Vancouver 86ers.
Cromack holds a Canada Soccer A license and is currently going through his UEFA A License certification, having held his UEFA B badge since 2016.
UNITY FC – MIKE SHEARON
Mike Shearon took over as the Trinity Western Spartans men’s soccer head coach in 2016 after serving as the team’s associate head coach for the previous six seasons, and first joining the team as an assistant coach in 1998 after moving to Canada from Ohio in the US.
Unity are affiliated with TWU allowing Shearon to continue the work he has done with the program’s players in recent years, having guided them to a 4th place finish at the 2018 USPORTS nationals, but now with some fresh additions added in to the mix.
Shearon has been coaching since 1995 and holds an Advanced National Coaching Diploma from the NSCAA. He’s coached in the PCSL and has also taken teams on a number of international tours.
As a player, Shearon played his college soccer with the Wheaton College Thunder in Illinois and played club soccer with Cleveland Internationals.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS U19 – RICH FAGAN
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Rich Fagan has been a part of the Whitecaps organisation since 2010, working up and down the various levels on both the men’s and women’s side, which included becoming head coach of Whitecaps FC 2 in their final USL season in 2017.
Prior to coming to the ‘Caps, Fagan was involved in the local youth soccer scene in BC since 2004 with Surrey FC.
Developing the younger players to get them ready for that next step and first team football has long been Fagan’s passion and he has been working as the head coach with the ‘Caps High Potential Players since last year under Vanni Sartini. That role sees him working with every head coach from U15 to U23 and liaising with head coaches and contacts throughout the nationwide Whitecaps Academy system to identify and evaluate players.
He will now be combining that role with taking the U19 side after Nick Dasovic stepped up to take charge of the returning WFC2.
Fagan hold a Canada Soccer A License, a USSF A License, and a FFF Elite Formation License.
VARSITY FC – MIKE MOSHER
Mike Mosher is the most storied of the coaches that will lead teams in L1BC this season, entering his 27th year as head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds where he has guided them to four national titles in 2005, 2007, 2012, and 2013, and was named Coach of the Year on that last occasion.
Now 52-years-old, the passion is still there and he has just won the 2022 VMSL Imperial Cup with VUFC Hibernian, a team which much like Varsity, is predominately made up of Thunderbirds players, so fantastic preparation for the upcoming L1BC season.
As a player, Mosher was a Thunderbird for five years, during which time he contributed to three national championship runs in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1989 gold-medal squad and is in the UBC Hall of Fame. Mosher also played four years with the Canadian Olympic team and spent four seasons in the Canadian Soccer League with the Edmonton Brickmen and the Winnipeg Fury.
VICTORIA HIGHLANDERS – STEVE SIMONSON
It’s a welcome return to Victoria for Steve Simonson who was in charge of the Highlanders in their PDL days for two and a half seasons from 2012 before leaving the organisation in 2015 when he became the head coach of the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves.
During his previous spell with the Highlanders, Simonson took them the 2013 PDL Final Four and he’ll be hoping to rekindle some of that success in L1BC.
Coaching since 1998, Simonson holds a Canadian Soccer B License and has previously been an assistant with the Whitecaps women’s team in 2006 and a technical assistant with the Canadian women’s national team from 2000 to 2004.
Away From The Numbers (AFTN) started life as a printed football fanzine in Scotland in 1989, growing to be a footballing presence on both sides of the Atlantic.
From those early days churning out a couple of hundred photocopied issues in a bedroom in Fife, AFTN has grown to become two websites, two blogs and a podcast covering the game in both Scotland and Canada.
The original fanzine won many plaudits and was described by the Daily Sport as “the best fanzine we’ve seen so far”, awarding us the maximum 30/30 score. Another publication described our infamous cartoons as “surreal comic brilliance” and we were regularly featured on TV, with appearances on the BBC panel show “They Think It’s All Over” and Sky Sport’s “Soccer AM”, amongst others.
AFTN finally embraced the online digital age in December 2003 becoming the main unofficial website, forum and web presence dedicated to East Fife Football Club. Check us out on the web at: www.aftn.co.uk.
Times change and circumstances change, and AFTN went global in 2009, launching a blog in Canada in March of that year dedicated to covering Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club at all levels from their Residency teams to the MLS first team. Add in features on the local soccer scene in British Columbia, including the college game, and the Canadian national teams, and we’re busy guys!
Branded AFTN Canada, the site has grown each year since then, much like the Whitecaps themselves, to become the prime non mainstream source for Whitecaps news and chatter out there.
The AFTN Canada blog made the move onto Canadian Soccer News in December 2011, taking our brand of news and commentary to a bigger Canadanwide audience and soon becoming a key component to the overall site. An AFTN podcast was added to the mix in April 2013 and this website, launched on March 1st 2015, is the latest part our progression.
Coming out of that gamechanging UK fanzine scene of the 80s and 90s shapes what AFTN is all about. We want to bring you all the latest news and interviews, along with comment and opinion on what is happening in the football world, and a look back at our teams’ rich histories. But we also want to have a laugh at the game and those who are part of it. That means humour, nonsense, lighthearted pieces, cartoons and things that may very well annoy and piss people off. That’s what we’re here for. If you don’t like that style, then kindly move on!
For every reader and every listener, old and new, that have been part of our journey so far, we thank you all. We hope to continue to entertain and inform you for many more years to come, keeping growing and coming up with new ideas and features.
About Michael McColl:
AFTN Managing Editor
Michael has lived and breathed football for as long as he can remember, and has written about the game since setting up AFTN as a critically acclaimed fanzine in Scotland in 1989. He is the Managing Editor of this site and host of The AFTN Soccer Show (AKA “There’s Still Time”) which can be heard on Sundays at 11pm on Vancouver’s CiTR radio and is also available as a podcast.
Michael is the current colour commentator for Vancouver Whitecaps 2 in the USL, TSS Rovers in the PDL, and UBC Thunderbirds in U Sports. The current Vancouver Whitecaps beat reporter for MLSsoccer.com, and Western Conference reporter for USLsoccer.com, Michael has also written in the UK and Canada for When Saturday Comes, Goal.com, Four Four Two, The Independent and Metronews Vancouver amongst others. He has also been a contributor and guest on football shows on the BBC, Sky Sports, Radio Scotland, CBC, TSN Radio and many more.
He has been accredited media for club games in MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, USL, and PDL, along with the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers, 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, 2016 Copa America, and many international games. He is always available for freelance work.
An avid supporter of East Fife, AFC Wimbledon, and West Ham United, Michael has a love for old footballing memorabilia, especially programmes, cards, and comics. He’s also a keen groundhopper. Check out his footballing travels via the link on the site!
You can follow Michael on Twitter at @AFTNCanada.