League1 BC has been acquired by Canadian Soccer Business (CSB) from BC Soccer, effective immediately, the organizations announced on Friday.
L1BC, officially a Division III Pro-Am league for both men and women, began play in 2022 and has served as an important piece of the Canadian soccer pyramid in British Columbia, offering a strong competitive level to help players develop from the youth to professional levels.
“The Division III Pro-Am level is a key part of the pathway to the professional game in Canada, and we are grateful to BC Soccer for the work that went into making this acquisition a reality,” said Mark Noonan, CEO, Canadian Soccer Business.
In 2023, League1 BC had eight teams competing in both its men’s and women’s divisions, with Whitecaps FC winning both playoff championships and the women’s regular season title, while Victoria Highlanders won the men’s regular season title — which qualified them for the 2024 Canadian Championship. Previous champions TSS Rovers had an outstanding run in the 2023 Canadian Championship, where they became the first side from any League1 or otherwise semi-pro level to beat a fully professional side, defeating CPL outfit Valour FC in the first round.
With this move, CSB now operates both League1 BC and League1 Ontario, under the League1 Canada umbrella launched in 2022 in partnership with BC Soccer, Ontario Soccer and Soccer Québec in an effort to unify the pro-am level of the pyramid across Canada. L1BC will be aiming to become an established part of the development pathway similarly to League1 Ontario, which has now seen over 200 players from the men’s and women’s Premier Divisions go on to play professionally in over 100 leagues across the world, including almost 40 players on Canadian Premier League rosters in 2023 and 17 players who represented the Canadian men’s and women’s national teams this past year.
“We are proud of the growth we have seen in League1 Ontario since 2019 and we are confident League1 BC will see similar success in the coming years,” Noonan added. “As we focus on playing our part in building a thriving soccer ecosystem in Canada, it is imperative that we commit ideas and resources to developing players from the grassroots through to the semi-pro level and on to the professional game. We are pleased to be taking the next step in doing just that with League1 BC.”
As part of the acquisition, CSB will now oversee day-to-day operations of League1 BC, as it does with L1O.
“We are proud to have developed and introduced League1 BC into the soccer landscape of British Columbia and Canada,” said Jason Elligott, Executive Director, BC Soccer. “Introducing this level of play helped fill a gap in the pathway. We are thankful for the support CSB provided BC Soccer as the league was introduced and we will continue to be here to support the league as the operations shift out of the BC Soccer offices.”