Fernie’s U15 Mens United soccer team was once the underdog of the Kootenays, but they’ve come out on top this season.
The team will compete at provincials in Langley in July. This is the first time a Fernie soccer team has ever played at this level.
“No Fernie team has ever qualified in provincials for soccer because we’re always up against Nelson, Cranbrook — these much bigger centres,” said coach Markus Glickman.
“We are always the physically smallest and youngest team …we have to be quite technical and clever to beat these older, bigger teams.”
Glickman, who coaches the team alongside Gary Joynes, explained that players who are one age level lower are brought onto the team to ensure every position is filled.
The team has had an outstanding season this year. They went undefeated at Clash of the Titans in Invermere on May 27 and 28. They competed against Westhills Fury, Nelson Selects and Kootenay East Soccer Association Rovers in this tournament, none who were able to score against them.
They beat Nelson Selects again at the Rockies Cup on June 4, which guaranteed them a spot in provincials. Fernie was tied with Nelson until the final leg of the game when Fernie gained points during a five-player penalty shoot-out.
“We always knew that [Nelson] was the team we were going to need to beat. We knew they were going to be our stiffest challenge,” said Glickman.
Fernie United will represent the Kootenays at provincials and will compete against teams from the coast, the lower-mainland and the Okanagan.
“It’s motivating to have this fixed goal in the distance, where you can count down the days and leave as prepared as you can be. They are excited and motivated and determined.”
“I hope they will get some life-long memories for going on this big road trip adventure and I’m hoping that we represent our club, our community and the region with class.”
Their breakthrough season is a culmination of four years of dedicated training with a team full of talented players.
“We started with these kids when they were nine and 10. We recognized early that this was a talented group … Some players leave, some players join, but the core group has been together for four years and had immediate success and have sustained that success.”
Despite their dedication, they weren’t focused on making provincials until more recently.
“I don’t think we really thought seriously about provincials until last year. We were more focused on playing regional tournaments and just trying to develop this core group of players to love the sport, love the training. It was really only last year where we consciously said ‘let’s go to the next level’”
“We would like to think that these kids can insire the younger kids to follow them.”