Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Soccer tourney a community affair
When Peter Manastyrsky and the Winnipeg Dynamo Kyiv Soccer Club decided to organize an indoor tournament in 2003, they had no idea it would still be around 10 years later.
But when the Ukraine Youth Cup is contested on March 24 and 25, it will mark the 10th playing of an event that has become a staple in the local soccer and Ukrainian communities.
"I’m definitely surprised it’s lasted 10 years," Manastyrsky said. "It’s because of the enthusiasm and involvement of boys and girls from all segments of the city."
The tournament started with four teams and is now up to six. The co-ed teams consist of players aged 11 to 17, and are formed by the organizers to encourage competitive games.
Each team represents a different Ukrainian city—which comes with added significance this year, as the country shares hosting duties for this summer’s European championships with Poland.
"Out of the six cities in the tournament, four are going to venues in Ukraine for Euro 2012," Manastyrsky said. "We have flags, and the kids will come in with banners for the cities they’re representing."
The hallmark of the tournament, which is held at Gateway Recreation Centre, is the wide range of playing abilities that can be found on the field at the same time. There aren’t many events that see 17-year-old premier-level players passing the ball to 11-year-old soccer novices.
"We’re the only one that does that," Manastyrsky said. "At the beginning the game can be tough on (the less skilled players), because it’s their first time meeting many of their teammates. But eventually as the game goes on they get accustomed to things. And sometimes the younger kids outplay the older ones."
Brandan Le Grand, 21, remembers playing in five Ukraine Youth Cups as a teen. The East St. Paul resident, who played competitively from a young age, enjoyed showing the ropes to some of his younger teammates.
"It was just fun, carefree soccer," Le Grand said. "You got to play with guys and girls from a whole bunch of different age groups."
Last year, Le Grand stopped in to watch the tournament on a whim. He was reminded of how much fun he had, and started talking to some of the Dynamo team members. One thing led to another, and he ended up trying out for, and making, the Manitoba Major Soccer League team.
Over the years, several tournament participants went on to eventually play for the Dynamo club, Manastyrsky said.
To register for the tournament, visit www.winnipegdynamokyivsc.com. Each team is guaranteed five games, and the $80 fee includes jersey, shorts, trophy and awards for each player.
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