One of Manitoba’s leading soccer figures believes the province can produce some of the soccer stars of the next generation.
The Manitoba Soccer Association recently reported that a record number of Manitoba players represented the province at the national and international level this year.
"The large number of players that have had an opportunity to participate in national activities is a positive indication that when we work for the benefit of the players, success is possible," said Hector Vergara, MSA’s executive director, who was speaking to The Lance in light of the organization’s recent annual general meeting.
"This success is key to motivating and inspiring the next crop of players that are interested in becoming the best they can be and strive to represent their clubs, province and country in the future. It is of benefit to the provincial and club programs that many players have represented Manitoba on the national stage. It also demonstrates that with desire, dedication and commitment the players in Manitoba have the ability and can develop to a high level to represent Canada."
In a list too long to mention in full, Vergara — an experienced referee who has officiated at the highest level, including the men’s FIFA World Cup tournaments in 2002, 2006 and 2010 — said 15 players this year have participated in various national team camps or international competitions. These include Dylan Sacramento, Dylan Carreiro, Enrique Garcea, Kianz Froese, Joseph Melong, and Braden Silva at the U-18 level; Marco Bustos, Ali Musse, and Froese at U-17 level; Andre Baires, Jashandeep Sangha and Marvis Kreitlieg at the U-16 level, and Julian Avila, Alic Rasmussen, Daniel Sagno and Federico Pena at the U-15 level.
Vergara said a number of this current crop of players can realistically expect to make it to the next level, at least.
"It is definitely realistic that players can attain scholarships, which has been proven in the past in Manitoba. Scholarships at various levels are one of the most important benefits of the programs, as we have proven with the National Development Centre (NDC) program, where we promote quality student athletes. Making it to the men’s and women’s national teams may be more difficult, but it is still a possibility. Elite players dream of representing their country and with a determined work ethic players are more likely to make it a reality," he said.
"The NDC program, the support of the staff at Glenlawn Collegiate and the Louis Riel School Division has been critical in the development of the players and in taking them to the next level. I am convinced that without this partnership, and the work being done at the NDC program, we would not have had as many players make it to the national program activities."
Vergara, who has been asked to assist with the preparation of referees and assistant referees at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, said the MSA has a lot to look forward to in the future.
"It has been a very successful year for the MSA, as well as me personally. Many look at the glass half-empty, but I choose to look at it half-full and continue to strive to improve and not to settle for what we achieved to date," Vergara said.
"There is a lot of work to be done yet, but we are moving in the right direction as an organization and making positive steps for the benefit of the players, coaches, officials and administrators of our sport in the entire province."
For more information, visit www.manitobasoccer.ca