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Burnaby girl wins International Soccer Challenge

Grade 4 Catholic school student won two awards for precision penalty shooting in continent-wide shootout

Move over Christine Sinclair and make room for Ava Jackson.

The 10-year-old Burnaby resident was a recent division winner in the International Soccer Challenge competition put on by the Knights of Columbus for accuracy in a penalty shootout.

Ava, who is in the fourth grade at Corpus Christi Elementary School in Vancouver, won the nine-year-old girls’ category in a continent-wide competition involving precision penalty kick shooting with an age-group-topping score of 220.

Ava, who plays soccer for the under-10 Burnaby Girls Selects Champions, won two awards for her feat – a championship award from the international body and another from the B.C./Yukon chapter.

A letter of congratulations to Ava on her award from the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization in New Haven, Connecticut stated her score placed her in the top one percentitle of over 9,000 participants in the class, provincial and international levels of competition.

“I was happy about (the award),” said Ava, “I didn’t want to try it because it was optional, but most of my class did it, so I tried, too.”

The accuracy contest awarded 20 points for a goal taken from the penalty spot into the corner of an empty regulation-sized net, 10 points for a low shot to the bottom of the goal or five points for a shot to the middle of the goal.

“I went for the corners, but I didn’t hit for the middle because you didn’t get a lot of points for it,” said Ava.

The competition was carried out at the school with winner’s scores compared with those of other competitors from across the province, nationally and into the United States.

Divisional girls’ and boys’ winners of the soccer challenge came from as far afield as Ontario, New York, Missouri, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California.

Soccer is not Ava’s only sport either. She also plays basketball with the Burnaby Eagles and recently brought home two medals from the Catholic Independent Schools track and field meet at Swangard Stadium, winning a silver in the long jump and a bronze in the 100 metres.

But soccer is her game, she said.

“I like soccer because it’s fun,” Ava said. “It’s just that now there’s more to love about it.”