The Fort Frances under-12 soccer teams competed at the district identification tournament in Dryden over the weekend and came away with eight regional invitations.
Coach Sarah Noonan said the tournament is not as much about winning games as it is intended to identify the best players in the region.
Three girls and five boys from the local teams have been invited to join the regional development program, she noted.
The letters have not yet been sent to the players yet so Noonan would not reveal their names. But she did say it is quite an accomplishment for so many local players to be chosen.
“Each town has their respective under-12 district team and basically those competitive teams come together at the end of the summer to be identified for the under-13 regional program,” she explained.
“That team is based out of Thunder Bay, and in the past
usually only the Thunder Bay kids had the opportunity to make that team,” Noonan said.
“So they designed this district program so that kids in the surrounding area could be identified, as well, you know, realizing that soccer’s a growing sport and there are good soccer players in the surrounding towns, too,” she added.
There is no guarantee that the eight local youths will be on the regional team. They’ve been invited to join phase one of the program and if they are deemed good enough, they will be invited to move on.
Noonan said the program is intended to funnel the best kids through to the national team—regardless of what town or city they come from.
“The whole format is designed so that kids can work all the way up through the system,” she remarked.
“If the kid’s good enough, [he/she] could go all the way to the top.”
Ontario has been divided into seven regions. In many of the regions, especially ones smaller than ours, the regional team hopefuls will be meeting once every week to train, Noonan noted.
But since Region 7 covers such a large area, Dave Colistro, the regional coach, has scheduled once-monthly meetings instead.
The invited players will go to Thunder Bay one weekend each month and have four training sessions over the weekend.
Noonan also said that from a team performance perspective, the tournament—and the summer—went quite well.
“I’m very happy with how the kids played, everything from their soccer skills to sportsmanship,” she enthused. “They had a lot of fun, and then to have kids identified was a bonus, too.
“So it was a pretty successful summer.”
The local girls’ team, supplemented by four Kenora players, was the only girls’ team at the tournament other than Thunder Bay, so the two teams played four games against each other.
“We went 2-2 with them [Thunder Bay], so we did pretty good,” Noonan said.
The locals won the first game 1-0 on a goal by Cassandra Moffitt. Then they took the third game 2-0, with Claire Hyatt netting both goals.
They lost the second and fourth games by scores of 4-0 and 2-0, respectively.
The local boys’ team, meanwhile, competing against squads from Dryden, Kenora, and Thunder Bay, were unable to pull off any wins in Dryden.
“We were pretty close with Dryden, but the Kenora and Thunder Bay clubs have some really good competitive players so I think we fared well against them,” Noonan said.
“And even to have those five individuals identified is a success for our program,” she added.