A group of 11 Mission Soccer Club players are planning for the trip of a lifetime in 2019.
If all the fundraising gets completed, head coach Jim Cook and the athletes will head to Sweden that summer and compete in the Gothia Cup.
Known unofficially as ‘The World Youth Cup’, the event has been held annually in Gothenburg, Sweden since 1975 and regularly hosts thousands of soccer players aged U11 to U18 every year. This past summer the event saw 1,730 players from 82 different countries hit the pitch.
Cook knows firsthand just how special the event is. He coached teams from Saskatoon at the event in 2001 and 2003, and said he’s excited to bring the team from Mission to Sweden.
“I enjoyed it and the girls put so much effort into going with fundraising,” he said. “They bond during the whole experience and it’s wonderful to see how they develop as people. The whole trip is something they don’t ever forget. I know some of the girls on teams I coached in the past are still friends with people they meet at the tournament from other countries.”
He said it’s a learning experience on and off the pitch for the players.
“They just learn so much,” he said. “They find out that as many differences as we have with people from all over the world – there is a lot that is the same about all of us. Just getting to meet kids from other countries is such an experience.”
The Mission team will compete in the U12 division at the event in 2019, and will play a guaranteed four games but it could be as many as nine depending on how successful the team is. The format for the event is seven-on-seven, with a similar playoff structure to the FIFA World Cup.
The team will be made up of girls from three different MSC teams, and fundraising efforts for the team ramp up starting in January. Several of the girls will participate in a Polar Bear Swim at Hayward Lake on Jan. 1 and the team will have continuos bottle drives in between now and the trip. There is also a banquet and silent auction scheduled for the Mission Golf Course on Jan. 27.
“They’re pretty excited about everything,” Cook said. “They might be a little less so in six or seven months after all of the fundraising we have to do but they’re really looking forward to the opportunity.”
Cook said the fundraising will also help send several of the team’s parents to experience the event with their kids. He said he is also trying to get the team from Mission to become Canada’s representative at the event during the opening ceremonies. If chosen, the Mission team would get to carry the Canada flag into the stadium in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans.
Cook said anyone wanting to help donate to the trip can contact him at the team’s Facebook page at facebook.com/girlsgothiacup.