With an abrupt end to the Victoria Highlanders FC soccer organization, which folded operations over the weekend, the Capital Region’s soccer community has lost its pre-eminent men’s and women’s clubs.
Owner Alex Campbell released a letter that confirmed a financial shortfall after a hopeful “investor consortium” fell through this year. He thanked the organization’s many sponsors and spoke about the hard decision to end the association’s term.
“On a personal note, we started the Highlanders out of a passion for the game and to give back to the community. Along the way I made many mistakes and unfortunately cost me tremendous resources. I was hopeful over the past year that an investor consortium would pull through and build on the legacy of the Highlanders, but sadly that has not happened and I am forced to make this difficult decision.”
Campbell thanked the coaching, employees and volunteers, and the Lakeside Buoys fan club and all fans for their support. He also made a point of naming the Hughes brothers, Tyler and Jordie, two of B.C.’s best talents, who were key members with the team since Day 1.
Shutting down is the Highlanders Professional Development League men’s team, which was the club’s bread and butter in terms of ticket profits, as well as the men’s and women’s premier and U21 teams in the Pacific Coast Soccer League.
“It’s sad and it’s unfortunate, the program in the last couple of years turned a corner, we had strong support on game days,” said general manager Mark de Frias, who also parts ways with the club.
There is some hope that the youth academies and prospect teams may be able to continue this season.
It leaves the South Island without a squad in the PCSL as the previous men’s club, United, folded operations last year.
The Highlanders started in 2009 and adopted the Victoria Stars’ PCSL team in 2010 when it ran into financial trouble, thrusting it a level up into the semipro W-League for two seasons.
“You never want to see something like this happen but in the same breath Alex invested a lot of money since 2009,” De Frias added. “It seemed as if we were building that momentum and would have been great to see where we would have taken the momentum forward.”
The Highlanders women went 12-0 and won the PCSL in 2014 while the Highlanders PDL men’s team hit its peak in 2013, winning the PDL Western Conference and playing in the PDL Final Four.
As GM De Frias knew there were parts of the program that didn’t make sense, but some that did.
“I think the a PDL program could be successful here in Victoria, with a few tweaks, and hopefully down the road a phoenix rises from the ashes.”