The Kootenay South Select U-15 soccer team based in Castlegar took first place in a tournament in Nelson over the weekend. The team is made up of players from Castlegar, Trail and Rossland.
The team remained undefeated throughout the tournament beating Boundary 4-0, Fernie 3-2, and Prince Rupert 4-2 before defeating Fernie again 4-0 in the gold medal game.
The team credits part of their victory to their training partners and fans — a group of Jamaican-born soccer enthusiasts. The team practices at the Castlegar Community Complex fields on Sunday evenings. At the same time a group of people from around the area with ties to Jamaica gather to play soccer. The two groups have developed a relationship where they share the field for a time and then play a scrimmage against each other. “The kids love it and they love it,” said coach Carlo Masini. “We have always had a great respect for each other.”
When the Jamaican team heard that the boys were playing at a tournament in Nelson, they decided they wanted to be there to cheer for them. “The kids were excited to hear they were coming, and that they wanted to watch,” said Masini. Over 20 energetic fans showed up to encourage the team. Masini reported that the team responded well, playing a close first game against Fernie before the supporters arrived followed by a 4-0 victory against Fernie after they arrived.
Assistant coach Ralph Lunn said, “Their cheers were loud enough that the boys on the field could hear their support, their positive energy made a real difference in their come-from-behind win in a tough third game.”
After handing the team their gold medals, Masini recognized the Jamaican team’s support by handing out the remaining medals to them. “I was really touched that they came and spent the day in Nelson to cheer for the boys,” said Vanessa Lunn. “It reminds all of us that above all, soccer is meant to be fun.”