Three Riptide teams off to BCs

Scott Stanfield

The Upper Island Riptide U15 boys beat Nanaimo in a shootout Wednesday at the Courtenay turf to win the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL) soccer playoffs. By so doing, the team has again qualified for provincials this summer (they won gold last year) and the Coastal Cup in April.

“Last year, after winning the gold medal, they had three players go to play in the HPL Wave Program, which is Tier 1 in Victoria,” said Shel Brodsgaard, Riptide soccer development co-ordinator. “We’re like the Tier 2 league on the Island. The success of our program isn’t just about the winning, it’s about passing these players upwards.”

This past season, all eight Riptide teams qualified for VIPL finals — which could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Brodsgaard said. Along with the U15 boys, the 2003 and 2001 Riptide girls have qualified for provincials.

A number of elements contribute to the success of the program. One is commitment: 12 players commute from Port Hardy and another 18 make the trip from Powell River.

Goalie Tyler Griffiths of Comox and Fergus Hall, a central defender from Campbell River, have been selected to the Canadian national U15 team training camp this week in Vancouver. Both play for the HPL Wave team in Victoria, but they still train with the Riptide.

“They were part of the 2002 boys team that won gold last year, and then they got promoted to Tier 1,” Brodsgaard said. “They’re very driven. Their internal motivation is of a very, very high standard. They’re the kids that you always see practising on their own.”

When Riptide players graduate from the U18 programs, Brodsgaard and other staff try to help them pursue post-secondary pathways.

This year, several U18 graduates are signing with the women’s soccer program at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

A meeting about the Riptide Spring Academy is being held Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Old House in Courtenay.


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