By developing their individual talents while working hard to improve as a unit, the Norberry-Glenlee Community Centre U-12 girls team scored an impressive victory recently.
The recreational league team, which is based out of the Molgat Avenue community centre, recently beat their rivals from Jonathan Toews Community Centre to become district champions for the 2013 outdoor season last month.
The team’s coach, Joe Aiello, has been coaching a core group of the players since they were seven. He said that while winning the championship was a great feeling, it’s not what primarily motivates him to keep on coaching.
"I coach to keep girls in the game," Aiello said, noting his daughter is on the team and he also coaches the boys’ U-9 and U-10 teams, which his sons play for. "I’m a great believer in soccer for life, which is the mantra of the Canadian Soccer Association. "I think a lot of players around this age, especially girls, drop out of sports and my goal is for them to keep playing.
"I think two of the most important things are socialization and staying active. In St. Vital, we’ve always been blessed with a big talent pool, so it’s important to have some continuity. I’ve always had a fairly good relationship with the girls I’ve coached over the years," added Aiello, a lawyer who has been coaching for more than 20 years and also played at a high level as an amateur.
"My approach to coaching is long-term player development and player performance, rather than outcome and result. I tend to follow that philosophy and believe in it," he said, noting the team improved as a collective force in the second half of the season and "only lost one or two of the last 15 or so games."
"I like to see improvement as we move along and it’s a great achievement for the girls. This success is about the social aspect, the skills aspect and how they played as a team. It’s all about them," Aiello said.
St. Vital resident Taylor Coward was a member of the championship-winning team and said helping bring home the title was an unbelievable experience.
"It felt really amazing. All the hard work paid off," said Coward, 13, who plays in the centre of defence. "I think it’s really important to stay active and also play a lot of hockey and volleyball. I try to be as active as I can, while having fun, of course."
The École Marie-Anne-Gaboury student said a core of around six of the team’s squad have played together for a long time, so it’s rewarding to welcome new players into the team, get to know them and their styles of play and work to form a team spirit.
"We improved throughout the season. In terms of our coach, Joe was never negative and always positive. He was always there cheering us on," Coward said.
In turn, the teen was among thousands cheering on the Canadian women’s national team, and local legend Desiree Scott, to bronze medal success at the Olympics last summer in London.
"It felt really good with Canada doing that well and knowing one day one of us could play for them."