Team bonding a golden formula

South Okanagan Canadians soccer team become a tight knit group which leads to summer games victory

This story is part of a series to commemorate the Penticton Soccer Club’s 60th anniversary.

When the South Okanagan Canadians won gold in soccer in the 1992 B.C. Summer Games, it was credited to one thing: being a close team.

A Port Alberni school was set up as a dorm, which the Canadians called home.

“That brought the team closer,” said Canadians forward Zico Pescada, adding that they got up at 6 a.m. and went to breakfast and watched games together. “It was really good.

“We might have not been the best team there, but we played like we were,” continued Pescada. “We became pretty tight. We weren’t that tight before.”

Canadians goalkeeper Pat van Ryswyk, who brought the experience of winning provincials and nationals on an under-18 team, said it was exciting to be part of the group.

“It was a real team. We had our good players, but it was a team effort,” he said. “To just run the table and win the tournament, teams were pretty solid.”

That closeness spilled onto the field after the Canadians defeated the host Port Alberni squad 2-0 in front of more than 2,500 spectators. Mauricio Cepeda and Brad Trach were the goal scorers.

“A lot of the people that were there thought we played really well,” said van Ryswyk, who had to stop nine shots. “A good brand of soccer. It was just a good feeling. It was just a magical run. They (Port Alberni) were a big, tough, solid team. Before the tourney they were the favourites. We just got better and better as it went.”

Pescada said Port Alberni was their toughest opponent and described the finale as a battle.

“They had their own chances.”

Ray Hintz, the Canadians coach, said that game was exciting. It was also the first time most of the players played in front of such a large crowd.

“We were psyched for it. They were ready,” said Hintz. “That was a really good game. They were a good team. We were fitter and we were younger (the age range between 24-30).”

Age rules for the B.C. Games were different then. Club teams with older players could compete and the shift towards youth didn’t begin until approximately 1995.

Pescada said what they did was exciting and probably was one of the highest accomplishments the team had.

“It was eight of the best teams in B.C. It was pretty good,” said Pescada. “It was a tough tournament.”

Players from that team still talk about the victory. What Hintz cherishes most are the friendships.

“It’s always the people you meet,” said Hintz, who was 30 then. “Everybody had their own identity.”

Hintz said it was great to win because they were without some of their top players like Manuel Borba and Randy Ennis.

“It was awesome,” said Hintz. “That group were together the year before. We were a strong team. We just gelled.”

The Canadians team also featured Mike Beliveau, Dave Hewer, Terry Peach, Terry Perreault, Danny Pio, Bobby Prowse, Guido Rigoni, Peter Selles and David Trawin, Toby Wallace, Rich Perkins and Andy Selles. Charlie Goeckel was the manager. Dave Calvert was the team president.

Another Penticton Soccer Club highlight from 1976-86 includes the introduction of the Oldtimers tournament in 1979 on Thanksgiving weekend attracting teams from throughout B.C. and the U.S. The tournament continues with ages groups of 35 to 50 and over. There was also the construction on the Penticton Soccer Club building at King’s Park in 1985, which concluded that spring.