Surf Cup soccer
By Glae Thien
SPECIAL TO THE UNION-TRIBUNE
Like the Vancouver teams of British Columbia who played the Sockers in the old North American Soccer League and later the Flash of the former A-League, Gavin Barrett and his teammates proudly wear the Whitecaps name.
These players brought the familiar blue and white of the Whitecaps back to San Diego at the 28th annual Surf youth tournament as part of a club that includes teams from the pros to youths.
Barrett added to a good trip for his team when he scored with eight minutes left to lift the Whitecaps to a 1-0 victory over the previously unbeaten San Diego Surf for a sweep of their three pool-play games in the Super U-19 division at the San Diego Polo Club yesterday.
The Whitecaps are also represented by their girls' U-19 Super team in the three-day elite event that concludes today for U-16 to U-19 teams.
“This tournament is amazing,” said Barrett, who accounted for the only goal allowed by the Surf in pool play. “The atmosphere is great. It's so huge (with 18 fields at one site), and everyone seems in good spirits.”
As a youngster, Barrett served as a volunteer water boy for the Vancouver pro men's team, and so he returned to the fold as a club player for the Whitecaps a year ago.
The Whitecaps offer a men's team in the USL First Division, the successor to the A-League, including Martin Nash, whose brother and NBA star, Steve Nash, recently purchased minority interest in the club. Also, the club have a women's pro team in the W-League, led by U.S. standout Tiffany Milbrett.
“They are Vancouver's pro team, so we've looked up to them,” said Ian Clark, who has been in the club's youth program for five years. “I've always aspired to be on the junior Whitecaps team.”
These U-19 boys made their first tourney appearance here to help realize their goal of eventually playing college soccer. Another club squad has players of the same age in residence with the objective of soon turning pro.
“It's a quality tournament,” Whitecaps coach Bart Choufour said. “What we like here is that we get a competitive game every game.”
Assistant coach Hubert Busby helps extend the lessons of the past to the present since he played on the Whitecaps against the Flash in its final season in 2001.
“We all know our game plan,” Barrett said, “and we all follow it.”