A pair of Simcoe County Rovers FC players are departing the local soccer team after signing professional contracts to play in the Canadian Premier League.
Centre forward Ethan Beckford will be joining Cavalry FC and left back Kahlil John Wentworth has signed on with Vancouver FC.
The Simcoe County Rovers FC issued a news release Wednesday morning to thank the two players for their contributions to the organization.
Beckford appeared in 17 regular-season matches for the Rovers, scoring 15 goals. The striker scored two more goals during the playoff run, increasing his total tally to 17 goals in 19 matches.
“Simcoe had by far the most professional environment. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else," he said in the release. "I want to thank everyone at the club and, of course, the fans that came to watch us. I wish the best for Simcoe County Rovers for the upcoming season in League1”.
Beckford is the son of Simcoe County Rovers FC men’s head coach Jason Beckford, who himself was a professional centre forward. The elder Beckford came through the Manchester City youth system and played in the top flight of English football. Ethan’s uncle and Jason’s older brother, Darren Beckford, was also a professional footballer, scoring 96 goals throughout his career in the U.K.
Wentworth, meanwhile, adopted the left-back position for the first time in his career upon coach Beckford’s advice in pre-season, according to the team. He ended up representing the Rovers in 19 regular-season matches as well as the two playoff matches. Wentworth scored his lone goal of the season of a direct free kick and was an "instrumental part" of the Rovers’ 2022 campaign.
“This was the best environment I’ve ever been a part of,” Wentworth said in a goodbye video to the Rovers community. “Standards in training were just as high as they would be on game day, week in and week out, and that really pushed us to get better.
"The accountability here was if every game was our last," he added. "My experience was unreal with the Rovers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish the club all the best in the future."
Rovers sporting director Julian de Guzman also extended his thanks to Beckford and Wentworth.
“A massive congratulations to Ethan and Kahlil for signing deals with Cavalry FC and Vancouver FC of the CPL. For us, it’s important to identify and develop local talent,” said de Guzman, who credited women’s head coach Zack Wilson and men’s head coach Jason Beckford in this regard.
“Going into 2023, Rovers FC will continue to provide a professional environment for players and coaches to develop while providing a pathway to higher levels of the game," he added. "Thank you to League1 for the wonderful platform built over the last decade. The league has grown substantially, and it continues to head in the right direction.”
Wentworth and Beckford are the fifth and sixth Rovers player that has made the jump to professional football in the club’s inaugural season.
Other players include:
* Yazmeen Jamieson | GPSO 92 ISSY (France)
* Leaford Allen | Napier City Rovers (New Zealand)
* Aodhan O’Hara | Manchester (Gibraltar)
* Trivine Esprit | York United Draftee (CPL)
* Kahlil John | Vancouver FC (CPL)
* Ethan Beckford | Cavalry FC (CPL)
The Rovers start pre-season on Feb. 14 and will kick off the 2023 League1 season in early April.