Vancouver Football Club winger James Cameron was nominated today for the Canadian Premier League (CPL) Best Under-21 Canadian Player of the Year award for 2023.
The award recognizes the best Under-21 domestic player in the league during the 2023 CPL regular season. Cameron, 18, joins fellow nominees Matteo De Brienne of Valour FC and Kwasi Poku of Forge FC.
Cameron originally joined Vancouver FC on a developmental contract in May after participating in the club’s open trials. The developmental contract allowed Cameron to train with VFC, and play in up to six professional matches while maintaining his amateur status. During that time, Cameron registered 468 minutes for Vancouver, which contributed significantly to the club reaching its league-mandated minimum of 2,000 Domestic Under-21 Minutes. The minutes Cameron logged while on a development contract remain the most by any player in that category over the course of the 2023 regular season.
Cameron went on to enter his first professional deal with VFC on July 20, 2023, under the Exceptional Young Talent (EYT) roster subcategory which was introduced by the CPL this season and allows clubs to sign two additional under-18 domestic players outside of their primary 23-man roster. The North Vancouver native continued to make consistent appearances for Vancouver and scored his first professional goal on September 9, 2023, against Atlético Ottawa, a game-winner that he produced in injury time.
Cameron made 17 starts in 19 appearances following his professional debut on June 11, 2023, against Cavalry FC and logged 1,504 total minutes to rank fourth in the league amongst domestic Under-21 players. He finished the 2023 season leading Vancouver’s squad in total tackles with 70 and duels won (129). Cameron ranked second within the team for tackles won (43), and third for aerial duels won (19). His total tackles and tackles won ranked Cameron second and fifth, respectively, in those categories league-wide. Cameron also earned two Gatorade Team of the Week honours in 2023 for his performance in VFC’s 0-0 draw against Valour FC in Matchweek 17 and after he scored his first goal in Matchweek 22.
The winner of the Best Under-21 Canadian Player of the Year award is selected based on voting by CPL club technical leadership and selected media members representing local and national outlets who consistently covered the 2023 CPL regular season. Previous winners of the CPL Best Under-21 Canadian Player of the Year awards include Valour FC’s Sean Rea (2022), Pacific FC’s Alessandro Hojabrpour (2021), Cavalry FC’s Mohamed Farsi (2020), and Forge FC’s Tristan Borges (2019).
The winner of the Best Canadian Under-21 Player will be awarded a unique piece of Inuit soapstone art, conceived by artist Taqialuk Nuna. The Polar Bear statue is awarded annually to the CPL’s Best Canadian Under-21 Player because, like a developing player, the animal grows from a playful young cub to one of the most respected and formidable animals roaming Canada’s North. The winners of all CPL awards will be announced at an in-person awards ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Hamilton, Ont, ahead of the CPL Final on Saturday, Oct. 28.
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