Borden played host to the annual National Soccer Championships for both men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces. The women’s winner was Pacific while the men’s was Prairie.
This year’s women’s national tournament held from Sept. 12 to 16 witnessed a Cinderella story with the Pacific area team winning for the first time.
“The biggest thing for the women was that Pacific came back from fourth place in the round-robin and upset the whole tournament and ended up winning, which was really exciting to watch,” said Kori Klein National Sports Coordinator for Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.
The Pacific team beat out Ontario, the number one team from the round robin, then went out to beat Quebec in the finals. The women’s soccer program in the CAF has made great leaps and bounds since its inception in 2008.
Klein points out that both the game and the players provide an exciting atmosphere.
“In the men’s championships the Atlantic team came in fifth, so they were knocked out of round robins. However, just to support the other teams they showed up and dressed up and brought horns. They did a half-time dance show. It can be anywhere from completely entertaining through the championship games themselves or entertaining and fun through the members and morale they provide,” said Klein.
The men’s tournament was held from Sept. 18 to the 22. For a second time in a row, the Prairie region came in first at the men’s championships. The final match was between Prairie and Ontario, who came in third in the round robin. But this year, the Prairie team was missing several key players due to the World Military Games in South Korea. After stringing together a team from different bases for the regionals, only seven players from the original team of seventeen could make it to nationals.
“The team was thrown together last minute, so our expectations were not great but with hard work and perseverance we overcome. The lads didn’t even know the names of players on their own team and didn’t play together prior to tourney at all. It was a great team to coach, and we all got to experience a huge high after we won,” said captain of the prairie team Kevin Phinney.
A lot of blood, sweat and tears were put into this year’s preparations. The team practiced every Wednesday.
“Not only did we showcase the fact that Garrison Edmonton hosts some of the finest athletes in the CAF, but we really demonstrated mental toughness in the win. During the final match, our leaders on the pitch stood up and motivated the team in the face of adversity.
“The team was able to develop incredible esprit de corps through stimulating conversation and discussion off the field, which translated to success on the pitch,” explained Phinney.