Members of a local soccer team returned from a prestigious tournament in the U.S. recently with a silver glint in their eyes.
The Bonivital Flames U11 boys competed in the All American Cup held at the National Sports Center in Blaine., Minn., between June 13 and 15. The team, coached by Lukas Douglas, overcame some stiff opposition to bring home a silver medal in the Flight ‘A’ division, losing only to the Minnesota Thunder Academy.
The team includes Alexander Shefchyk, Kaya Jones, Harris Cornick, Gavin Quinlan, Ethan Mann, Hunter Walker, Evan Adair, Daniel Kowalczuk, Ashe Lanyon, Sullayman Jah, Milano Tummillo, and Giorgio Cotroneo.
The team’s coach, Lukas Douglas, said he was proud of the achievements of his players — not least because it was the first time they had played in such a competition outside the city limits.
"It feels good (to bring home a silver medal), as we beat some strong teams to get to the finals. It was the first tournament in which the boys had to travel outside of Winnipeg and they handled it very well," said Douglas, 26, who lives in North Kildonan.
Douglas said most of the competing teams were from the Minnesota area and the Flames competed in its division with three other teams in a round-robin format. As one of the top two placed teams, the Flames then made it to the finals.
Douglas — a project and sales co-ordinator at Manitoba Hydro International who is supporting Germany at the current 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil — said this is his first season coaching the team.
"I’ve known the head coach of Bonivital, Malcolm Mitchell, for a long time, and he offered me the team for the outdoor season."
In terms of his approach to coaching in his rookie campaign, Douglas said it is important help nurture and develop confidence and creativity in his young players in a non-judgmental environment.
"As this is my first season with this team, I tried to set up an environment where the kids are not afraid to be creative and make mistakes. You don’t learn without making mistakes, so it’s important the kids understand that. And when you aren’t afraid to make mistakes, you can improve very quickly as a soccer player," he said.
"We’ve done a lot of dribbling and one-on-one attacking in practice so far, and spent at least 40 to 50 minutes in each practice in various small-sized games, so there are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes, learn from them and get better at soccer. The boys have really bought into this and it has been fun watching their development so far."
To learn more about Bonivital, go online at bonivitalsoccer.com