Men's U-17 International Friendly 15 December 2022 - Ciudad Mexico, DF, MEX Canada Soccer by Mexsport Bryan Morales v Jeevan Badwal

By Brandon Timko

Vancouver Whitecaps FC kicked off its new season in February.
The city’s professional soccer team is playing its 13th season in Major League Soccer (MLS) and continuing to build relationships in the local community while pushing for success on the field.
They are hosting a series of Celebration Matches for the second straight year, including a Women & Girls in Sports match (March 11) and a Vaisakhi Night (April 8).
On and off the field, they have had a growing number of players and staff from the South Asian community, including more than eight staff of Indian descent now working at the club.

One of the key members of the team is club reporter Sarita Patel, whose family is from Gujarat. “Honestly, I can’t imagine the team without her,” hailed the club’s MLS head coach Vanni Sartini, “Sarita is a people person. She is a joy to be around, helps unite the group, and brings people together, from players to staff, to the front office. She is empathetic, she jokes around, and she makes people happy. She is honestly one of the most important parts of our team.”

Patel first joined the club in 2021. She has greatly enjoyed her time and role. She has built personal relationships with every person on the team, from the players to the athletic therapists, to the equipment managers.

“Growing up, I wasn’t sure what path I would take in this industry,” says Patel. “Being here and walking the grounds, and seeing little girls and boys be able to see themselves respected in an organization is key. I hope kids can see that there is a path to get there.”

After coming to Vancouver to start her role in 2021, she moved with the team to Salt Lake City, Utah, for nearly five months to play their home matches.
“It was a great setup, but also hard. I had just moved to a different city, but for others, I could see how hard of a toll it was to be away from home.”
In August of 2021, the team finally returned home to play home matches at BC Place, and by the end of the season, they had made the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
“To clinch a playoff spot in front of 25,117 fans at BC Place in the last game of the season against our biggest rivals from Seattle was an extraordinary moment. Knowing the ups and downs, COVID, living in Utah, made it worth it.”
In 2022, the Whitecaps won the Canadian Championship for the second time in their history.

“You knew it was special when Vanni said we would win it. This year, it is the most important thing for us. The way that we pushed that throughout the whole organization, promoting it to get an amazing crowd, and the way that we took it seriously to go for it, that meant the world to me.”

They are hungry to make a run at the MLS Cup this season, and Patel will be there as part of the team every step of the way.

The club has also been represented on the pitch by U-17 academy player Jeevan Badwal, a midfielder.
In February, the teenager from Surrey, BC, helped Canada qualify for the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.
He was active throughout the tournament, earning a penalty kick in the first knockout game and then assisting on the winning goal to send them to the World Cup.
Now Badwal, who speaks Punjabi, will continue pushing forward with the Whitecaps, and he is already on the radar of Sartini.
“Jeevan is a good player, an important prospect for us. He loves the game, is a student of the game, and he wants to improve. As a central midfielder, he is very disciplined but has the quality to play forward. I hope he keeps working because he has all the tools to have a chance in the future.”

To learn more about the Whitecaps, Vaisakhi Night, and their 2023 season, visit