In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, SixFive Sports and Entertainment LP announced that its incoming Canadian Premier League expansion club — previously awarded as the Vancouver 2023 bid — will begin play in Langley, British Columbia at Willoughby Community Park.
The club, which will officially be CPL’s ninth team and the second expansion side to kick off, will be based in the Fraser Valley township of Langley, about 45 kilometres east of Vancouver. It will be owned and operated by Canadian-based investment fund SixFive, which is led by managing partner Dean Shillington, as well as investors (and former Canadian national team players) Rob Friend and Josh Simpson.
Wednesday’s event, held at the Langley Events Centre next to where the CPL team will play, began with a land acknowledgement of the traditional indigenous territories of the local area before Langley mayor Jack Froese introduced the news officially.
“The township and Langley Events Centre have been honoured to host numerous provincial, national, and international events, leagues, and teams, and we’re thrilled that the Canadian Premier League will now bring professional soccer to Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley,” Froese said.
Rob Friend, president of the Vancouver 2023 project, also addressed the crowd to explain his own personal sentiments on a momentous day for soccer in the area.
“It’s pretty special to stand here right now and plant this flag,” Friend said.
“This game is growing in this country, this game is growing in this community. And to bring the Canadian Premier League to the Township of Langley, we are very, very proud. We’re very optimistic that we are going to grow the game and be part of this community. And it’s not just Langley, it’s Surrey, it’s throughout the whole Valley. It’s about providing opportunities for all — I didn’t have that opportunity. My young kids can now aspire to play in the Canadian Premier League.”
He added: “We’ve been talking about this for almost five years now, and it’s a pretty special moment to stand here in front of all you guys… We’re excited to announce the name, announce the brand in the coming months, and to really dive into this community and to listen to what this community needs. And it’s not just the soccer community, it’s the entire community; inspiring the entire sports community. I’m an athlete, it’s in my DNA, it’s not just about inspiring the soccer community, it’s just inspiring the younger generation and being proud, and representing your local club.”
Representatives from Trinity Western University as well as the local soccer and rugby clubs that make use of the currently Langley field were also on hand to celebrate the occasion, as was an assortment of local media.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Township of Langley and Metro Vancouver into the CPL family,” said Canadian Premier League VP Glen Johnson in a statement.
“The popularity and excitement surrounding soccer in Canada has never been greater. Having a Canadian professional club playing at Willoughby Community Park will be a key driver in the development of Canadian talent in the region. It will also open the door to many new and exciting opportunities for the region’s passionate soccer community.”
The Canadian Premier League kicked off its fourth season last week, and it will run until October 29, 2022. This ninth club will fully enter the league in the fifth season, set to kick off in Spring 2023.
All CPL matches are available to watch via the league’s official media partner OneSoccer, as well as on Telus channel 980, and FuboTV.
For more information on the Vancouver 2023 expansion club, visit CanPL.ca/Vancouver2023.