South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association under-15 district Pinnacles boys team is going on a Euro trip, but it’s likely to be nothing like the one in the movie.
The team will travel to Portugal and England from July 20 to Aug. 2 and it’s an opportunity that Pinnacles left defender Bret Depner is looking forward to.
“I think it’s going to be pretty good,” said Depner, who is looking forward to seeing the talent in England. “A lot of good teams down there. We will have some good competition.”
While in England, the team will participate in the Keele International Cup 2011, Britain’s No. 1 mini soccer tournament and visit Old Trafford stadium, the home of Manchester United, which plays in the Barclay’s Premier League.
“I have always wanted to go see Old Trafford stadium,” said Depner, who regularly watches the English league.
Depner said they are going to be exposed to a different style of play and face athletes who play all the time.
“They will be a lot better so we will be able to play some good players and it will be a lot better for our team,” he said.
Depner is also excited to train at the Sporting Academy in Lisbon, where Portuguese star and national team captain Cristiano Ronaldo played.
“It’s going to be good, going there for a week,” he said. “We will gain more experience and soccer skills.”
Depner’s teammate Ryan Brunton shares his excitement.
“In England I get to go see my favourite team (Manchester United), their stadium,” said Brunton, who has bragged about it to a friend in Keremeos. “I’m really looking forward to that. The tournament in England I’m really excited for. The camp in Portugal sounds a lot of fun. It’s going to be awesome.”
When it comes to playing in the Keele International Cup, Brunton is confident on how they can perform.
“Oh, we can take them,” he said. “It will be good matches.”
Through contacts Pinnacles coach Paul Araujo has in Portugal and another parent on the team, Araujo was able to make his idea a reality. Araujo thought of the trip two years ago as he wanted to give something back to the community as he had a similar experience.
“It’s very exciting,” said Araujo. “It’s going to be not only a good soccer experience for these boys but also an experience of traveling to Europe and not too many people have that opportunity.”
He also sees this as a benefit to the players because there are some who dream of becoming professional athletes. This will give them a window to see what it’s all about and what it takes to become one.
“They will be playing against players from Europe, who train six days a week,” he said. “The biggest thing is the experience of going to Europe and seeing Lisbon and seeing London.”
The cost per player is $3,500 and the team has been doing fundraising initiatives such as selling raffle tickets with prizes being a trip for two to Hawaii and London. Skaha Meadows Golf Course has sponsored the players’ track suits and knapsacks. Another fundraising initiative they have is taking place Saturday at King’s Park as they teamed up with Ford, who will donate $20 to the team for every person that test drives a car, up to $6,000, as part of Ford’s Drive One for Your Community national program. The team said this is the first time Ford has done anything like this.
Bruce Statham, a sales manager with Ford, said this is a way for Ford getting involved in the community.
“If you have an organization that wants to raise money, we set up this test drive program,” said Statham. “It’s a great way for them to raise funds and for Ford to be involved in the community and get out there and help the kids.”
Also taking place at King’s Park and beginning on Friday and concluding Sunday is the inaugural SOYSA Pinnacles Spring Cup. There are 42 teams coming from cities such as Prince George, Lethbridge, Alta, Salmon Arm, Victoria, Delta and Burnaby among others. There will be approximately 1,000 players aged 10 to 18 playing.
“The big thing is this is a high level of district soccer,” said SOYSA’s new administrator Steve Coates, who added that Penticton has 12 teams entered.
“Tony Patrocinio (president of SOYSA) felt that spring break was a good time to get people who don’t play soccer yet out,” said Coates. “We hope the weather holds up. We have received cooperation from the city to open up the fields.”
Friday action will be from 2 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.