By Rick Kupchuk
The 17 players selected to play for Team B.C. at the Canada Summer Games had a definite advantage in the selection process.
It wasn’t an unfair edge, just one which was taken full advantage of. All Team BC players also participate in the Whitecaps FC prospects program based out of Delta, attending North Delta Secondary during the day and training and practicing in the evenings.
“Under an arrangement with BC Soccer, we run the under-17 provincial program,” said Bart Choufour, head coach of both the Whitecaps prospects and Team BC . “There was a tryout process (for Team BC). We had tryouts in April.
“But our team (Whitecaps) trains together every day, it helps the players develop. And it makes it tough for other players to crack the lineup.”
Choufour predicts Team BC will challenge for a medal at the Canada Summer Games, which begin tomorrow (Saturday) in Prince Edward Island.
But he admits that even with the advantage of players participating in a daily program, the team going to Prince Edwards Island isn’t the strongest possible provincial team.
“Some players aren’t available because they are going to U.S. universities in the fall, and some of those universities don’t want those players playing at the Canada Games,” said Choufour, conceding other provinces may also be in the same situation.
Usually a medal contender in national soccer competitions, Team BC didn’t reach the podium in 2005, losing in the bronze medal game. Choufour, a Tsawwassen resident, said “we’d like to at least medal. And of course, the goal is to win gold.”
Having a group of players which has trained, practiced and played together should give Team BC and edge over the competition, but Choufour warns two other medal contenders will also have the same edge.
“It does give us a bit of an advantage,” he said. “But Ontario will have a lot of boys from Toronto FC, they run a program similar to ours. And the Quebec boys will have played together a lot as well.”
Of the 17 players on the team, 11 are from the Surrey/North Delta area.
The Surrey contingent includes goalie Evan Lowther, defenders Kyle Knees, Jerome Lou midfielders, Alden (Denny) Serifovic, Avindeep Sidhu, Rhys Volkenant and Harry Lakhan and midfielder Jordan Whitehead.
From North Delta are defenders Erik Hacker and Adam Staschuk, and midfielder Cam Parkes,
It will be the first time Choufour has coached at the Canada Summer Games, and is looking forward to the experience.
“The event will be very exciting, I’ve never been to it before. There will be other sports going on as well, and we’ll spend some time watching them, I’m sure. It will be like a mini-Olympics,” he said.
“I’m just looking forward to the whole atmosphere, I’ve never been to the Maritimes before, and people say it’s beautiful in the summer. And I want to guide the boys to the highest possible finish.”
In total Fifty-five local athletes will compete in 16 sports at the Aug. 15-29 Canada Summer Games, which will be staged in the Prince Edward Island communities of Summerside and Charlottetown.
Sports featuring local athletes participating in the first week of competition include women’s basketball (Sarah Allison and Sally Hillier of South Surrey), men’s basketball, (Ken Barker and Sean Shook of Surrey), cycling (Cody Campbell of Cloverdale), diving (Stephanie Hansen of Cloverdale and Keith Tidey of South Surrey), rugby (Cole Coventry, Conner Dickie, Keaton Styles and Hayden McMullin of Surrey), sailing (Isabella Bertold of Surrey), women’s soccer (Jenna Di Nunzio of North Delta and Nicole Ambrose, Jennifer Castillo, Gurveen Clair, Natalie Boyd, Nicole Setterlund, Katie Turney, Tessa Meyer and Jenna Richardson of Surrey), softball (Courtney Cronin, Alyssa Derksen, Lindsay McElroy and Andrea Stevenson of North Delta, Kelsey Bryant and Marina Groenewegen of Surrey), and men’s wrestling (Isaac Bernard, Sukhan Chahal and Arjun Gill of Surrey).
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