Northern girls make long trek for Summer Games

Playing in the Estevan 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games girls soccer competition didn’t produce the hoped results for Team North, but it did allow the club an opportunity to know what they need to reach to.

Team North finished the Summer Games with a 2-0 loss to Team Prairie Central at Cactus Park on Wednesday morning. The result is a marked improvement over the team’s previous four matches at the tournament and shows what perseverance and hard work can accomplish.

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“The first few games we haven’t really played with each other and this last one we started to know how to play with each other,” said Team North goaltender Kassidy Bouvier-Lemaigre, 13. “That helped a bit and just knowing where you need (to be) helped out a bit more.”

Brandon Roy, coach of Team North, said they represent the largest district geographically than the other eight zones at the Summer Games, which posed a problem in trying to assemble a team. He said they held a tryout and practice in Ile-a-la-Crosse in June where five girls from Montreal Lake and 10 players from Ile-a-la-Crosse earned a spot on the roster, but soccer-mad communities further away such as Creighton couldn’t be represented due to the travel distance involved.

Roy said getting to the Summer Games in Estevan also posed a hurdle for the kids who earned a spot on the team as they first had to take a four-and-a-half hour bus ride from Ile-a-la-Crosse to Prince Albert, spend the night there and then charter a bus for the six-and-a-half ride to Estevan. He said the team also took that route when returning home shortly after the game against Prairie Central.

However, the cost for Ile-a-la-Crosse girls to gain an opportunity to play in the Saskatchewan Summer Games didn’t pose a difficulty as the town’s minor sports program helped fund the trip. Roy said the girls only had to chip in for the Games' fees with the program crediting the rest as a way to remove barriers for kids participating in sports as well as helping build their soccer foundation.

“We have five different age groups with 17 different teams,” said Roy, about the Ille a la Crosse minor soccer program. “This is our third year (and) our first year being associated with Saskatchewan Soccer. We had over 200 participants this year. Registrants from our first year, we only had 48, so the sport is growing.”

Kassidy said the Estevan Summer Games was her second chance at participating in a provincial multi-sport tournament as she also competed as a skier in the Prince Albert 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games. She said the experience playing in Prince Albert helped her adjust in Estevan with a hope this competition will get her ready for the next Saskatchewan Games.

“It was like flashing back on old memories,” said Kassidy. “It was really nice.”

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