Alic Rasmussen keeps kicking it up a notch.
Rasmussen recently participated in the Canadian Soccer Association’s U15 national men’s team camp in Florida from Nov. 9 to 16.
The 15-year-old goalkeeper, who plays for the Bonivital Flames at the premier level, was one of two Manitoba-based players who took part in the camp along with Winnipeg South End United’s Julian Avila.
It was the team’s second camp of the year under head coach Ante Jazic. The two local youth were selected based on their performances with the provincial All Stars program and performance with the province’s National Development
Centre program, officials say.
Rasmussen also participated in the team’s first tour last August in Mexico. The teen said the recent camp was an invaluable and inspiring.
During the camp in Florida, the Canadians played two exhibition games against their U.S. counterparts and also watched the Honduran men’s national side in training, Rasmussen said.
"It was inspiring to see how Honduras practised. They were intense, high-paced, sharp and made no mistakes," said Rasmussen, who lives in Elmwood and attends Glenlawn Collegiate as part of the NDC program.
"The level we played was much more competitive than in Winnipeg. I loved playing with those guys, as it brings up the level of your game."
Rasmussen said he hopes to eventually land a contract with a professional club and fulfil his dream of playing for the men’s national team.
"I want to keep working hard and get better and better. I’ve been asked to go to try out at Toronto FC and we’re working out all the details right now," he said, noting his favourite player is Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Rasmussen first played in goal while playing for Phoenix Soccer Club at the age of 10 and hasn’t looked back since.
"I love taking control of the game and leading the defence from the back," he said.
Rasmussen’s NDC schedule includes a 90-minute morning training session at the University of Manitoba before school.
"This has helped my development a lot and it helps everyone build character," Rasmussen said. "It also helps to have such a great staff."
Rob Gale, the Manitoba Soccer Association’s technical director and the head coach of Canada’s U16 and U18 teams, said the achievements of Rasmussen and Avila demonstrate the importance of the grassroots soccer structure at the provincial level.
"I’m delighted for these two lads that their performances propelled them into contention to be selected for the national team," Gale said. "These two boys have been great leaders and dedicated to personal improvement and are a great example to others in our programs."
So what advice does Rasmussen have for young, upcoming soccer players?
"Always have fun playing the game and never let that slip your mind. And always work hard and never give up."
For more information, visit www.manitobasoccer.ca