The Nelson Selects will have a strong showing at the Provincial B soccer tournament, as seven of the nine rep teams prepare to compete for provincial glory this week.
The number has continued to increase in the past five years, demonstrating the strength of the Nelson Youth Soccer program in the Kootenays. The boys U15, U16, U18, and the girls U13, U14, U15, U17 will be representing Nelson in Aldergrove and Kelowna from July 5 to 8.
“I think all the teams that are going down are better prepared for provincials,” said Dave Spendlove owner of Soccer Quest and advisor to NYSA. “They are playing good football, not kick and run anymore.”
The Nelson squads are going to need to be strong as they are up against some tough competition. Big centres like Kamloops, Kelowna, Victoria, Vancouver, and Surrey will all be playing at the provincial tournament.
Spendlove said every Nelson team must be at their best if they want a chance to medal.
“That’s how things have changed over the last few years,” said Spendlove. “The goal of Nelson Youth Soccer is not to make provincials, our goal now is to medal in provincials.”
Last year the U18 boys came home with a second place finish, and the year before that same team won the provincial title. With medal finishes in sight, this year’s teams will need the support of their local volunteer coaches, which is an area that Spendlove said has really evolved over the last few years.
“The soccer coaching in town has changed. There are 600 adults playing soccer now, compared to only 80 when we first moved to town. So it creates a culture and people are more interested in the game.”
Having a strong community of soccer players definitely strengthens the quality of players at every level of the system.
Though it’s not just the coaches who have helped shape the soccer community, according to Spendlove. It’s the organizers behind each league and rep team that have really developed how Nelson soccer operates and performs against larger clubs.
The addition of the Soccer Quest facility has also allowed players to compete at a much higher level because it gives them access to fields all year round.
Another factor is the City doing a better job of maintaining the fields, so the conditions are better for kids to play on.
“Everything just seems to be a lot more organized. It’s run well now,” he said. “The teams should be more competitive against the bigger clubs that they go up against.”
Now it’s time for the players to compete and show how they fair against the larger teams of the province. The action starts Thursday in Aldergrove for the boys, and in Kelowna for the girls.