United, Bittengl joining forces on soccer pitch

By Don Fennell

Published 5:44 PDT, Sat September 19, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

In aligning itself with a UEFA-licensed coach, Richmond United Soccer Club clearly has an eye on the future.

The club, formerly known as Richmond Girls’ Soccer, is partnering with former European professional Martin Bittengl who in 2017 set up the Richmond academy that bears his name.

“This partnership is another step towards our club providing all players with program options to best meet their needs,” says Mandhir Punia, United’s director of soccer operations. “By the end of this year (Bettingl) will be one of only two UEFA pro-licensed coaches that we are aware of in BC. Martin brings experience and knowledge that few coaches have and he will be working directly our club to launch our boys’ program this upcoming spring.”

Bittengl will also be responsible for United’s two new men’s teams playing in the Richmond Adult League. These teams will provide a direct pathways for graduating players to continue to play soccer, Punia explains. 

Punia also notes that United is aligning with the likes of Fusion FC (providing players with a direct link and access to High Performance League coaches), the BC Chinese Soccer Federation (sharing resources, experience and opportunities to participate in leagues and tournaments), the Brazilian Soccer School (the opportunity to greatly improve ball skills) and Russel Sean Fitness (access to strength and conditioning opportunities).

“Our club believes that our members registration money should go directly to what they want it spent on, and that is their development,” Punia says. “Our professional coaches work directly with our players on a weekly basis.”

Established in 1974 as the Richmond Girls Soccer Association, Punia says the club has demonstrated an ability to develop high-performing players and teams.

“This is proven by the number of  teams that advanced to and participated in the Provincial A Cup, Provincial B Cup, Coastal Cup and league championships. And many have ended up winning these events.”

Over the past few years, 47 graduating players have moved on from United’s grassroots program to higher levels of play with Fusion FC and other teams participating in the BCSPL,” says Punia. “In addition, several other players have graduated from our soccer program to soccer programs at Canadian and American colleges and universities.”

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