Soccer club gets Olympic boost

Ladysmith got a first-hand look at the changing face of Canadian soccer at a recent series of training sessions.

Ladysmith got a first-hand look at the changing face of Canadian soccer at a recent series of training sessions.

Four members of Canada’s Olympic women’s soccer team hit the pitch in Ladysmith Thursday and Friday to work on skills and inspire players with the Mid-Isle Soccer Club.

“We wanted to come out to the Island and just chat with the kids and bring our medal and show them that if they dream big anything is possible. We wanted them to be able to touch the medal and see that we’re living proof that if you work hard anything is possible,” said Karina LeBlanc, goalkeeper with the Canadian team that captured bronze at the 2012 Games in London.

“It’s a chance to talk with the kids, tell our stories and talk about some obstacles we’ve overcome.”

Mike Rankin, vice-president of the Mid-Isle Soccer Club, said the visit by the Olympians was a real hit with the younger players.

“The session with the younger kids was just fantastic to see these kids with stars in their eyes having so much fun with their soccer heroes,” said Rankin.

“Not only are they world-class athletes, they’re all very accomplished speakers. They’re really strong role models for youth and our club, and coming as it does at the start of the soccer season it’s a fantastic chance to get everybody pumped up.”

One of those getting pumped up by the chance to meet Canada’s stars was Hannah Stannard, a fullback with the U17 VIPL Upper Island Storm.

“I love that they’re doing all this, it’s really cool,” said the 16-year-old who helped the national team members with one of the training sessions for younger players. “Just the experience and being able to work with them, it boosts your confidence.”

While the crowd at Friday’s leadership luncheon was mainly girls, Rankin said the training sessions drew a fairly even mix of boys and girls.

Female players represent a growing segment of soccer across the country, and Rankin estimates girls represent close to 40 per cent of the 400-plus players with Mid-Isle Soccer Club.

“Our house league teams for girls are stuffed full, said Rankin, adding the club is seeing more growth among girls.

Diana Matheson, a midfield/forward with the national team, said she’s noticed the growth in women’s soccer since she started playing at the age of five.

“We’ve always had a ton of support at home games but after London I think it just pushed it over the edge. Canadians just love their soccer right now,” said Matheson.

The women’s game is expected to get another major boost next summer when Canada plays host to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“I think Canada is ready to come out in number and cheer for women’s soccer and especially for Canada at home,” said Matheson. “It’s going to be up to us to deliver a performance that’s going to keep them interested through the tournament and beyond.”



Just Posted

Meet the Ladysmith ambassador candidates

Seven enrolled in this year’s leadership program

Dump truck driver hurt after highway crash in Ladysmith

One man airlifted to hospital after collision between dump truck and pickup truck Friday

Ladysmith reservoirs full despite winter drought

Both reservoirs at or above capacity

Rickter Scale: Goodbye in the blink of an eye

Funny the impact a text can have — in more ways than one

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read