Coastal FC set to host nationals

Under-18 soccer tournament planned for South Surrey Athletic Park, Oct. 8-13.

Some of the best young soccer players in the country will be in South Surrey next month, competing at the Coastal FC-hosted Under-18 National Club Championships.

The South Surrey-based association will host the event – which includes both boys and girls tournaments – from Oct. 8-13 at South Surrey Athletic Park. It is one of three national club championships – including U14 and U16 events – being held across the country.

It’s the first time Coastal FC – or its predecessors, Peace Arch and Semia.hmoo Soccer – have hosted the tournament, Coastal executive director Chris Murphy said.

And making it more exciting for the hosts is that the B.C. squads in both the boys and girls events are from Surrey. In the girls tournament, the host province will be represented by Coastal FC, while Surrey United will be B.C. reps on the boys side.

There are no berths for host teams, Murphy said, and both Surrey teams had to earn their way in by winning their respective provincial cups earlier this summer.

That this year’s event is being hosted on home turf is simply a lucky coincidence, Murphy said.

“We certainly hope it gives them a boost, playing in front of a lot of local fans,” he said.

For Coastal FC’s U18 girls team, the national berth is actually their second in a row, having qualified last year as an underage team. Last year’s nationals were held in Newfoundland.

“This is their second year trying to win the big prize, so hopefully playing at home can give them a bit of an advantage,” Murphy said.

Each tournament will feature 10 teams – one from each province, excluding the territories.

And while the national championships at any level are a big deal, Murphy said the U18 event holds a little extra significance for players taking part because it is their final year of organized youth soccer, and many teams have played together for years.

“It’s their last year before they all kind of disband and go their separate ways to continue playing elsewhere, so it’s a little extra special in that regard,” Murphy said.

“This is their last chance to be together as a team, so there’s a bit of sentimental value there.”

The tournament opens Oct. 8 with games throughout the day, and then opening ceremonies are set for 5 p.m.

At 7 p.m., Coastal FC’s girls will play Ontario in something of a “showcase” game to kick off the tournament.

After that, games – four in each tourney – will be played at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily at South Surrey Athletic Park, with the two gold-medal games set for Thanksgiving Monday (Oct. 13) at noon.

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