What lies ahead for B.C. at next week’s Canada Soccer Toyota under-15 boys championship is the unknown.
And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, remarked head coach Nick Dasovic.
His squad from the Mountain United FC has tackled the local rivals and are ready for the toughest tests in the nation.
“I think the biggest challenges with youth soccer is keeping the team’s motivation up at 100 per cent, but I haven’t had any troubles with that with this group,” said Dasovic. “We’ve started our (2017/18) season already, but this has been a major focus for everyone.”
That’s what happens when you win the provincial crown, as Mountain did in July by beating nemesis Fraser Valley 1-0 for the u15 title. Zakiy Karim’s goal gave the EA Sports premier league club the win, avenging a loss the previous season.
Mountain will launch the national tourney on Oct. 4 in Calgary against the Yukon champions, with the other team in their pool Nova Scotia’s Halifax City.
Drawing the majority of its players from Burnaby and the North Shore, this Mountain crew have been together, with a few alterations, since u13. Dasovic, who took on the coaching reins a year ago, said the boys have great chemistry.
“They’ve known each other for years; we’ve got kids from Burnaby, North Vancouver, even Maple Ridge and there are no issues. It’s a real good group,” he said.
“One of the things I like to talk about is humility, and the importance of being humble. My biggest motto is: we’re not here to breed good footballers, we’re here to breed good people.”
Dasovic said his own experiences – which include playing 63 games for Canada and playing in top international leagues in Croatia, France, Sweden and Scotland, and coaching the national u20 and u23 men’s teams – have prepared him for a variety of situations. Still, that first game of a national tournament is where adrenalin and nervousness can get the better of anyone.
Having the boys prepared mentally and physically is one of a coach’s biggest jobs, he said.
“These boys are well-versed with high-calibre game. A dozen are from the high performance program, two or three are with the Whitecaps (development program). … It’s a whole group of guys who expect the best, and they know why we keep harping on the team concept.”
While expectations are for the boys to return home with valuable experience and a positive memory, Dasovic said it’s also germane that a trophy is part of their goal, too.
“I want them to leave with a great experience, but this is also soccer development, and a big part of that is winning. I’d think it’s important that they are aiming for a championship, as these boys don’t want to hear about just participating,” he added.
The Burnaby contingent of the club are: Lucas Dasovic, Joshua Greco, Zakiy Karim, Jaden Manetta, Nicholas Momotani, Zachariah Thomas, and captain Simone Masi.