Will Johnson and Tamara Hynd
Nelson hosted a two-day indoor soccer tournament over the weekend that featured over 61 games and 200 players, attracting soccer enthusiasts from Cranbrook, Castlegar, Fernie, Kimberley and Invermere.
“We were bringing the east and west together, under one banner. This is a one-of-a-kind thing for the area, and for the whole Kootenays,” said Whitecaps regional head coach, Brett Adams.
“A lot of people don’t see the work that’s done behind the scenes to make this happen. But the proof is in the pudding when you can get 200-plus players out for a weekend. It’s more than worth it to see the reactions of the players and the parents. They can see where we’re going as a soccer community in the Kootenays,” he said.
“It is really exciting to be able to do this and especially with the access to the Nelson soccer indoor facility,” he added.
During the tournament, players from U-10 to U-14 were mixed randomly together. The kids played alongside people from other communities, which was a team-bridging experience for them, said Adams.
“It’s a huge benefit for them to play with other players.”
He said 10-year-old Nelsonite, Jalen Rushton, was the standout performer, scoring 14 goals in the tournament.
Grand Forks 14-year-old Finn Dribney also had a spectacular performance, scoring seven goals in what Adams called a “really competitive tournament.”
In the older age groups, which played competitively, the Kootenay West Team 2 won the top spot, winning 4-1.
Adams said the most impressive performances were by the goaltenders: Nelsonites Bella Guderyan, 15, and Hannah Quinn, 15; Trail resident Paige Gattafoni, 16; and Invermere player Wasyn Rice, 16.
“In an indoor tournament the shots are coming at them left, right and centre. There’s a lot of pressure on them to be able to stand up to the amount of pressure they’re under.”
He said he was particularly impressed that Quinn and Guderyan, who just turned 15, held their own against the older players.
Adams said as the club gathers momentum, they’re going to start seeing big achievements in the next few years.
He added that the older boys had a great weekend as well, and Trail player Nolan Derosa played “an unbelievable technical game and stood out as a leader for the team”.
“The level of fitness, the level of understanding of the game the boys demonstrated, was incredible. There was no kick and rush, and they were really playing attractive soccer,” he said.
Adams said they’re now working with colleges and universities to place some of their more elite players, including Derosa.
Adams said the weekend was an excellent networking opportunity.
“This weekend we had parents from all over the Kootenays talking to each other, getting involved, intermingling. To put that on and collect all of us under one banner is remarkable, and long may it continue.”