Three local soccer players took their game on the road last month to show off their skills against international competition.
Megan Diamond, Jasmine Lotey and Brooke Richtik of Winnipeg Phoenix Soccer Club were in London, England to take part in the Firstpoint USA Soccer Showcase. They were the only Canadian players at the annual event, which primarily gives European players an opportunity to earn scholarships to American universities.
"It was so fun," said Lotey, who at 13 was the youngest member of the group. "It was amazing."
Lotey, a centre midfielder from East Kildonan, used the trip as an opportunity to catch the attention of some of the 150 U.S. college coaches who were in attendance. She also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of heading south in a couple years to finish high school at a soccer prep program.
"I played with a couple girls from the English national team and I thought I was just as good," she said. "I just wanted scouts to see the way I play."
College is coming much sooner for the other two Phoenix players. Diamond and Richtik are both in Grade 11, and are both hoping to score scholarships after graduation.
"I thought I played really good," said Diamond, a striker from Westwood who plays for Phoenix’s senior women’s team and Portage Trail’s under-18 squad. "The level of play was super good, and the field (at London’s massive indoor Soccerdome) was a lot bigger than I’m used to."
Diamond said it didn’t take long for the tougher competition to bring out her best.
"It was tough for the first 10 minutes, and then I got the hang of it," she said.
Diamond spoke to a few universities after her three showcase games, and is hoping to turn that interest into an offer.
The players were able to do some sightseeing while in London, and said the highlight was attending an English Premier League game between Newcastle and Fulham.
"It was so crazy," Lotey said. "I never thought I’d go to an actual professional game."
Diamond said the hoopla surrounding the stadium was as memorable as the game itself.
"Just walking to the game, the atmosphere and everything was incredible," she said.