It's been a summer to remember for Richmond's unofficial first family of soccer and it just keeps on getting better.
Back in July, Clive Clarke's Richmond Red Hot Selects captured the U16A Provincial Cup on home turf against Prince George to clinch a berth into next month's National Club Championships in Calgary. In that game, his daughter Summer scored twice and went on to be a standout for Team B.C., capped by winning gold at the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops.
Her outstanding play got the attention of the national U17 team which invited her to a recent training camp and exhibition series in California where she earned player-of-the-game honours for netting the game winner in a 1-0 triumph over Japan.
Now it's her older brother making waves with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Following an impressive sophomore campaign with the Whitecaps Residency Program, 18-year-old Caleb Clarke was asked to join the Reserve Team for the balance of the season in the MLS Reserve League. Not only did the promotion mean seeing higher quality play, it meant training with the first team on a regular basis.
Clarke has been effective coming off the bench to date, managing to set-up up a goal during a recent 3-2 road loss at Portland.
"The only way for me to improve as a player is to keep moving up and facing better and faster competition. I now see it in games and training," he said.
"It's pretty exciting and it's what everyone is striving for in the Residency Program."
The talented striker hasn't worn his hometown colours since he ironically played for his father's highly successful Richmond Madrid team back at U15.
He and Declan Rodriguez left the club system to join the Residency Program where they eventually enrolled into Burnaby Central secondary which provided a flexible class schedule for train-ing.
"We had a great team and those were fun times," recalled Caleb of his Madrid days. "At the same time we all knew players would be moving on for greater challenges.
(That age group) is still enjoying lots of success and I support them when I can.
"From day one, my dad has been a big influence on my career and I really owe a lot to him for the player I am today. I can't even think of how many hours I spent knocking the ball around in the backyard."
Clarke got a taste of the Reserve Team as a call-up player and his full-time promotion was a mutual decision between the Residency and the Reserve coaching staff. He will play in the Reserve team's final two games before re-joining his Residency U18 teammates for the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) season which kicks off Sept. 17.
"It's all about getting better as a player and one day playing for the first team," he added. "These are steps to where I want to be."
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