Bodo von Schilling
Special to the Mirror
We need your support.
Come out and cheer on our Upper Island Riptide U15 Boys at their final game of the season. Kickoff time is 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7 at the new Campbell River Robron Turf Field.
Heading into the final game of league play, we are tied in points for first place in our Vancouver Island Premier League pool of seven teams.
A win on Sunday is a must to achieve league winner status.
We are hoping that the Victoria team with whom we are tied does not perform as well. A tie or a loss for the Victoria team matched with a win for our team clinches first place for our Riptide team. Not only does league winner earn us bragging rights, but we also get home field advantage and a bye in the first round of up-coming Cup play.
This weekend, we play against our cousins from Nanaimo from the Upper Island Storm franchise. The Storm has improved significantly over the season and the competition level is expected to be sharp.
In February, all Riptide teams are involved in A Cup play-downs, trying to win the Vancouver Island berth to the Provincial A Cup tournament in July. Cup play is based on single-game elimination. One loss and the team is out of the competition.
The Riptide program plays Tier 2 youth soccer, the highest level of competitive soccer available north of Victoria.
It is not practical for Upper Island players to commute to Victoria to play on the Tier 1 team and as a result, our team has many highly skilled and committed athletes.
Our team is made up of nine players from Campbell River, four from the Comox Valley and three from Powell River. We train up to three times per week, with a game on most weekends. The players are tremendously committed, particularly the Powell River players who must travel the ferry on a regular basis. We have to arrange special training sessions to get the whole team together. Our team has very supportive parents who drive the kids up and down the Island to training and games.
The public might think of youth soccer as a polite sport in which parents engage their kids for social time and fitness and for most of youth soccer, this characterization might not be far from the truth.
The Riptide program delivers high-calibre competitive soccer. Come out and see for yourself that our elite athletes are anything but polite. The play is intense and the level of competition and skill is very high.
On Wednesday night, our Riptide technical director Shel Brodsgaard trained the team and he declared them to be mentally and physically fit coming into our last league game and Cup playoffs. Attitude and momentum are critical to any sport and in soccer, this might be even more important given the dynamic nature of the game and the fact that soccer requires 11 players to orchestrate together to get one small ball into the opposition net.
We would like to thank our Riptide major sponsor, Marine Harvest, for their support this season. For example, the Marine Harvest sponsorship helps pay for a specialized goalkeeper coach who trains with just the keepers once a week.
Our team keeper is a Campbell River player Alec Weinstein who has been a big reason for our team success this season. His improvement in the Riptide program has been remarkable.