A stellar five-year stint with the Toronto Varsity Blues has earned Dylan Bams the opportunity to wear Maple Leaf red.
The 22-year-old Fanny Bay native is preparing to join his Team Canada soccer teammates for the 2013 International University Sports Federation (FISU) games, which run July 5-17 in Kazan, Russia.
Canada is in Pool D at the 16-team tourney. They play France on July 5, Peru on July 8 and the reigning world Universiade bronze medallists from Brazil on July 10. The gold medal game goes July 16.
Bams notes that next to the Olympics, the FISU games are the second largest amateur sporting event in the world. “I have been training my entire life for an opportunity like this as it’s always been my dream to wear a Team Canada jersey. Finally this dream is becoming a reality.”
Bams’ goal is to play professional soccer (where ever in the world that might take him), and he realizes the FISU Games could open that very door for him. “To represent Canada at the World University Championships (is) a once-in-a-life opportunity for me.
“I will have the opportunity to play at an international-level sporting event, compete against the best athletes in the world, be scouted and recruited by top representatives in the business, while at the same time, representing my country.”
Canada finished ninth in 2011 at Shenzhen, China, the second-best result in program history behind their fourth-place finish in 2007 at Bangkok, Thailand. (The Games are held every two years).
Bams doesn’t know how Canada will fare this year, but notes, “We’re definitely in tough with France and Brazil in our group.”
To earn a spot on Team Canada, Bams attended a three-day open camp in Toronto which had about 45 to 50 players participating. Similar camps were held in Edmonton and Vancouver.
The 20-man Canadian roster was announced in April, with Bams one of three B.C. players to earn a spot.
Bams is in the Comox Valley until June 24, then will fly to Guelph to join his Team Canada teammates for a short training camp before they head off to Russia.
While back home, Bams has been busy contacting as many people as possible with a request for financial assistance to defray the costs of going to the FISU Games.
“We get no funding from the CIS (the governing body of soccer in Canada). The university gives us a little bit of money, but it doesn’t come close to covering the whole cost,” Bams said. (The trip is) pretty much self-funded.”
Those wishing to help can contact Bams at 250-335-3373 (home), 416-206-8719 (cell) or Dylan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Any help would be greatly appreciated,” Bams said. “Please feel free to contact me to discuss the possibility of a sponsorship partnership or any other questions you may have.”
Standing six-feet tall, Bams considers himself a box-to-box midfielder. “I’m good in the air. Defensively I’m pretty good. I can get forward and score goals,” he said.
The talented student-athlete graduated from G.P. Vanier in 2008 and made an immediate impression upon joining the University of Toronto men’s soccer team – he was named U of T rookie of the year as the Varsity Blues placed fourth in the OUA.
In 2009 Bams was an OUA first team all-star as the Blues won silver at the OUA finals and finished fourth at the CIS national championships.
In 2010 Bams was an OUA second team all-star and helped the Blues win OUA gold. Toronto placed fourth at the nationals with Bams named to the all-star team.
In 2011 Bams was an OUA second team all-star as the Blues won OUA silver and finished sixth at the CIS championships. Completing his university career in style, in 2012 Bams was an OUA first team all-star, U of T men’s soccer MVP and was awarded the university’s Silver T.
“Silver Ts are awarded to outstanding graduating student-athletes,” Bams said. “You have to play a certain number of seasons and be ‘outstanding’ – win championships, be an OUA all-star…”
Reflecting on his all-star days in Toronto in an interview with The Varsity (U of T’s student newspaper), Bams recounted his two most memorable goals, both game-winners against the Carleton Ravens.
“The first came in the 88th minute to put Toronto over the top during his first year. The second, mirroring the first in some ways, came in brilliant fashion in the 93rd minute in his final year, scoring with a back heel on a corner kick that sent the ball into the top right corner; Bams is modest enough to call the goal a ‘complete fluke.’ Winning against the school that is ‘definitely one of our rivals’ only served as the cherry on top.”