A new season doesn’t start for a week, but Ezra Cremers likes what he sees in implementing a new playing style for the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association.
It was on display during the Pinnacles Spring Cup last weekend, which featured 40 teams in the age groups of under-11 to -17.
“All of our teams are playing a good style of football,” said Cremers, the Pinnacles executive director/ head coach, talking about their possession-attacking play. “Hard work through the academy really showed.”
Cremers saw a focus on individual skills, passing and receiving, and players being in the right position. The time and effort put in by players training hard for six months, two to four times a week, has paid early dividends.
“This tournament was for district teams,” said Cremers, adding that SOYSA has over 2,000 kids registered. “Overall, we did very well. We had lots of teams in the top-3, including the under-16 girls winning gold, under-13 girls also winning gold. The majority of our teams were in the final.”
Derrick Webb, who coaches the girls under-16 team, noticed a difference as his team blanked Campionesse from Westbank 2-0 to finish first.
“I would say our girls outplayed the other teams,” said Webb, who has noticed his players taking fitness seriously. “You can attribute that to the indoor training with Ezra. I’m pretty sure we’re going to come out of the gates faster than other teams.”
The under-14 boys lost in a shootout, but coach Joe Afonso said they played “real soccer” fabulous for the first time. His players were accustomed to playing eight on eight. As for the new system, Afonso likes what he sees.
“It results in more ball possession,” said Afonso.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of it, but we did. The kids pleasantly surprised us. It will take some time getting used to it. I believe in what he (Cremers) is trying to do. It’s a very European style, Dutch style. New things are sometimes better.”
Cremers said it’s going to take time to build the foundation, but he was excited by the fact the Pinnacles were winning against teams they lost to. An example of that was the under-13 girls squad coached by Duarte Francisco. They faced a touch Kelowna United team and won the final 2-0. Francisco was really pleased to see that result since Kelowna has always been a challenge. However, with 60 to 70 per cent of his players joining the fall/winter academy, Francisco noticed a difference.
“They passed the ball well and they were not panicking and kicking the ball away,” said Francisco, whose team went 3-1 and allowed just two goals. “The kids are grasping it quicker.”
Because of the new direction SOYSA is taking, Francisco said teams will have strong starts.