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Tofino and Ucluelet host youth soccer tournament

Teams from Port Alberni and Nanaimo travel in for one-day sporting event.
West Coast player Noah Grills, right, chases down Kevin Bolivar from Nanaimo during Sunday’s soccer tournament at Ucluelet’s Tugwell Fields. Six Vancouver Island under-13 teams participated in the friendly, one-day tourney. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Young West Coasters took on teams from Nanaimo and Port Alberni on Sunday, April 15 in a friendly, under-13 tournament held at Tugwell Fields in Ucluelet.

Field conditions were ideal thanks to the sunny day, and tournament organizer Ornella Cirella said she was delighted to see so many rosy-cheeked kids playing the sport they love.

“It brings our two communities together. Rather than us always being against each other now we are together in this,” Cirella said.

“Generally, the only teams we’ve ever played are each other. It’s just been Tofino versus Ucluelet. And so if we ever wanted to play anyone else, we’ve always had to travel. We just wanted the teams to come here. We wanted an opportunity were we didn’t have to travel,” said the soccer mom of two boys, Marcus and Rafaelo.

From left: Kai, Noah, Dakota, Colby, Ethan, Quinn, and Ethan watch their friends at Tugwell Fields on April 15.

Tofino and Ucluelet combined forces to form two West Coast teams. Port Alberni brought one team and Nanaimo journeyed to the Coast with three teams, including a top-ranked girls team from the Harbour City Football Club coached by Todd Moore.

“We play all the teams in Nanaimo several times during the year so any way we can play somewhere new is great,” said Moore. He confessed his team took it easy on the less experienced West Coast contenders.

“We usually play very aggressive. That’s important in soccer. But when there are small players, my team plays a bit shyer.”

Moore noted that most of his athletes stayed at least one-night on the Coast.

“It’s fun out here. It’s a good reason to come out,” he said.

Volunteer referee Geoff Lyons told the Westerly he thinks Sunday’s soccer action is the start of something really big.

“It’s good for the kids, it’s good for their moral, and it’s good for the community because these folks have been staying over night and bringing in some revenue,” he said, adding that he would like to personally thank Cirella for the effort she put into organization the tournament. Cirella said she organized the tournament herself.

“There is only so much one person can do. Hopefully next year if we have a tournament committee then maybe we can have opening ceremonies and maybe we can have a trophy.”

She encouraged Tofino and Ucluelet parents who support soccer to attend the West Coast Soccer Association annual general meeting on Wednesday, May 2 at the Ucluelet Community Centre.

“That would be great. Then we can go from there. I’m really hoping the tournament can become an annual thing.”


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Alberni U12 boys compete in Surrey Mayor’s Cup (AV News, March 28, 2018)

Canadian soccer star Christine Sinclair honoured at Rideau Hall (The Canadian Press, Jan. 24, 2018)