Powerchair soccer scores more players

Penticton’s B.C. Storm Powersoccer tournament celebrated its 10th anniversary with record numbers.

JOHN CROSSLAND of Kelowna

JOHN CROSSLAND of Kelowna

Penticton’s B.C. Storm Powersoccer tournament celebrated its 10th anniversary with record numbers.

“We’ve had comments that it was the best one ever,” said organizer Cathy Cunningham, adding that there were 30 players.

Only one change was made and that was having the players in the open and provincial divisions staying in the same gymnasiums at Skaha Lake Middle School and Princess Margaret the entire weekend. Once the open division was finished playing, they headed over to watch the final in the provincial division.

Teams were named after wines in part to celebrate the anniversary, Cunningham said. They also celebrated with good vintage wine.

The final featured Cabernet versus Merlot. Cabernet won 4-2 but not without a fight from Merlot.

“It was 3-0 down to the last five minutes,” said Cunningham. “Merlot came back and scored two goals. That was great.”

Of the 30 players in attendance, two were locals, Daniel Cunningham and Andrew Cooke.

Cunningham said the players were excited and instead of departing as early as possible on Sunday to return to their destinations, they hung out.

“I walked out into the common room and everybody was there,” she said. “They make new friends.”

Cunningham has been putting on the tournament annually in an attempt to grow the sport in Penticton. That has failed so far.

“I don’t really know why,” she said. “A lot of them said that once you have a facility and practice time we will come out. We have to get the players before I can get the practice times. You are paying for a practice area that nobody shows up.”

It’s a catch 22, as people are waiting for a gym that is expensive to rent. They do get donated time in Kelowna where they practice every Sunday, except this coming one, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Parkinson Rec Centre. Anyone interested in coming to watch or get involved is welcome. Despite the struggles in trying to attract more players, they don’t give up.

“We chase after people,” she said. “It’s a great sport. It’s competitive but it’s also a lot of fun. Team building and you meet new people. There are opportunities to travel and play in competitions all over the world.”

What impressed Cunningham during the weekend was the efforts of volunteers. They did anything they could to make it a success.

It was also a success for another reason.

“We have excellent sponsors,” said Cunningham, adding that they donate food, coffee and deserts. “Amazing the businesses that have stepped up to help. We send them pictures. Some sponsors come out to watch. It’s always great support.”

Anyone interested in playing can contact Cathy Cunningham at c.cunningham@shaw.ca.