Soccer champions Matt and Chris Arnett are living proof that good things can happen when you put a little flesh and blood on the field.
The Ladysmith siblings, separated for years by their six-year age difference, came together last fall when Chris, 21, was old enough to join his brother early into Cowichan FC’s season. What followed was a fabulous season of soccer, topped off with a Jackson Cup win on April Fool’s Day and a shot at provincials April 14. That game was lost to Vancouver Columbus.
“That was basically the dream for us for years; to play on the same team together,” Chris said. “But never in our wildest dreams would we have thought we would have found ourselves playing for a cup.”
Cowichan was trailing the Bays United Liquor Plus team 1-0 in the second half of the Jackson Cup final when Chris and Matt scored just six minutes apart, clinching the cup with a 2-1 victory.
“For it to happen the way it did was an absolute dream season; we couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Matt said.
Chris, a right mid-fielder, can fondly recall a childhood of watching his big brother, a left mid-fielder, participate in the Mid-Isle Soccer league. Both boys have been playing the game since they were five.
“It all started for me because I wanted to be like my big brother,” he said.
And follow in those footsteps he did, whether it was playing with the local youth soccer teams, participating in the Merriman soccer camps to eventually graduating on to the Vancouver Island University men’s soccer team.
Both attribute their prowess to years in the local soccer scene.
“It’s a tight-knit association because it’s not a very big place,” Chris said. “You play for the same team for a few years, and the players you play with become some of your best friends and you develop your skills together and the love of the game.”
Chris, who has just completed his Physical Education diploma, has moved to Merrit to work for the summer and tend to a few nagging injuries. He plans to keep playing on Cowichan and Nanaimo turf.
“I love the game more than anything and I’ll play it until the day I die; I just needed a few months to rest,” he said.
Matt, an athletic therapist for the Victoria Highlanders, says he would like to see his brother return to Cowichan for another season.
“We’re very similar but he’s definitely much quicker than I; he’s an unbelievable soccer player,” he said.