The Mission Rebels have begun the trek to Sweden, and open competition at the 2019 Gothia Cup this Saturday in the Scandinavian country.
The youth soccer team, comprised of 11 local girls, has been fundraising for the past two years thorough pub nights, a banquet, a gold tournament, polar bear swims, raffle draws, donut sales, bottle drives and chocolate sales.
They are the youngest of five teams representing Canada at the event.
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.
Rebels head coach Jim 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.”
Team officials praised the generosity of the community in helping make the trip a reality for the girls.
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 event runs from July 14 to 20.
Everyone interested can follow the team on Facebook at Mission Girls U11 Soccer Team – Gothia Cup 2019.
More information on the tournament can also be found at gothiacup.se.