In just a few months, James Cameron has gone from being a normal North Vancouver kid to one of the few hundred athletes playing in the Canadian Premier League (CPL), Canada’s top soccer tier. Cameron has always been passionate about soccer but never thought he would make a living out of it. So he didn’t think much of his father’s Christmas gift to him, which was a ticket to the open trial of the CPL’s newest expansion team, Vancouver Football Club.
“I didn’t believe it was worth it. I never thought someone could make a career out of the open trials,” says Cameron.
But Cameron has now became one of three players selected from hundreds to join VFC’s pre-season training. While Cameron’s journey started a bit rocky, he didn’t let that deter his chances, “I didn’t have the best preseason, I didn’t play a lot of minutes… I believed that if I continued to make the right decisions day in and day out, eventually, I would get my opportunity,” remembered Cameron.
Cameron finally took his first professional steps when he joined VFC’s master roster under a Developmental Contract on May 3rd, which allowed him to play up to six matches while retaining an ‘amateur status.’
“Early pre-preseason, my goal was to get a development contract. I was never working with the intent of scoring goals or signing a pro deal,” says Cameron. “That’s what I was aiming to do and I think if I finished the year on a development contract, I still would have been happy.”
Happy as he was, Cameron didn’t stop there. The 18-year-old’s grit and determination in training was rewarded just over a month later with his professional debut as a second half substitute against Cavalry FC. “You train so hard so you can play the games. [Train] very hard through the rain, the cold, the hail, whatever it was. [Receiving playing minutes] feels like it’s all worth it, everything you’ve done, all the sacrifices you made, all the work you put in,” said Cameron.
Cameron quickly accumulated his six allotted games and VFC proceeded to sign the North Vancouver star to a full contract. “I always felt like I could compete with pros when I was on my development contract,” reflects Cameron. “If I’m on the same field as you, it’s fair game in my eyes.”
After becoming a consistent starting player for Vancouver, there was really only one more milestone that needed reaching: his first professional goal. While some players have to wait years to do this, Cameron scored his first in fairytale fashion with the come-from-behind, game-winning goal in the dying minutes of VFC’s match on Sept. 9th.
“My first set of goals was to make three appearances, then it was six, then it was signing a pro deal,” says Cameron. “I just continued changing my goals as the season went on and as I progressed. One of my latest objectives was to try to get a goal or an assist. So I was pretty happy about that to knock it off my list.” As Vancouver’s season slowly winds down, Cameron feels like he’s just heating up and has his eyes on the prize for next year: “I wanna win.”