When Port Moody’s Anthony White takes the pitch for Vancouver FC, he wears his hometown on his sleeve.
The first-year Canadian Premier League (CPL) franchise that plays out of Willoughby Community Park in Langley features an all-black kit with the name of every Lower Mainland community embossed into it — including Port Moody.
White, who turns 20 on Aug. 1, says his rapid rise from the Coquitlam Metro-Ford club system to rookie professional after just a couple of years at the University of Toronto owes a lot to his roots in community soccer.
White, a Heritage Woods Secondary grad, was drafted first overall by VFC in the CPL’s U-Sports draft last December, signed his first pro contract three months later and promptly worked his way up to a starting centre back position after an apprenticeship of less than 10 matches.
At 6’2”, White’s not afraid to mix it up in both defensive and offensive roles. During a recent match against the Halifax Wanderers at Vancouver’s home field in Langley, he bounced up off the pitch following an aggressive tackle by Mohamed Omar and immediately challenged the veteran midfielder, who was subsequently issued a yellow card. After VFC’s first home victory, over Forge FC in the CPL’s 11th week, he was named to the league’s Team of the Week.
White’s self-assurance between the touch lines comes naturally. Both his parents are accomplished athletes — his dad, Chris, even earned a trial with Celtic FC in Scotland as a midfielder when he was younger, and his mom, Sandra, played soccer and tennis. His brother, Nik, is the captain of the men’s soccer team at Harvard University in Boston.
With all that high-level soccer ability gathering around the breakfast table every morning, you might think White felt pressure to live up to familial expectations as he worked his way up through the youth system to CMFSC’s premier program. But White said he felt nothing but supported. His dad was even his team’s assistant coach for a stretch.
White’s development has included training invitations from international teams like Dinamo Zagreb, FC Nurnberg, NK Sibenik in Croatia and in 2019, he was one of 16 players selected for the Generation Adidas program to train with Real Madrid in Spain.
In 2022, White played with his brother on the Burnaby-based TSS Rovers in League 1 British Columbia, the top semi-pro league in the province, helping the side to the circuit’s inaugural championship.
White, who won’t be eligible to return to the U of T Blues, said the CPL is a logical next step in his progression as a player.
“It’s a very good development opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m playing beside a lot of experienced and quality players.”
It’s also a bit of a trial by fire. Midway through its first season, VFC sits in last place in the CPL standings with three wins, four draws and eight losses.
“I think it’s kind of expected for an expansion team to take a while to build better relationships, better chemistry,” said White after a recent training session.
Still, he added, there’s opportunity to be had.
“I think the back half of the season will be much better for us.”
In the meantime, White said he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity he’s been given at VFC, with his eyes glancing toward a potential future in Major League Soccer and maybe even Canada’s national team in time for the 2026 World Cup that will feature several games at BC Place.
Playing close to home, where White can still get him mom to help with the mundane routines of daily life, like getting laundry done and cooking good, healthy meals, allows him to devote his full attention to getting there he said.
“It’s all just positives. I’m in a great spot.”
• You can see White in action on Saturday (July 22) when Vancouver FC hosts Cavalry FC, 4 p.m. at Willoughby Community Park.