Although the outdoor soccer season has just begun in the lakecity, 13 girls from Columneetza already have numerous games under their belts thanks to a trip to Hawaii over Spring Break to compete in the 12th Annual Friendship Cup.
Thirteen players and five chaperones left Williams Lake for Hawaii from March 17-27.
“We started fundraising and planning for the trip back in October,” said Columneetza coach Caitlin Day. “We had a series of fundraising events from a dinner and silent auction, samosa sales, bake sales, movie night and a bottle drive. We were also very lucky to have such great support from local businesses in the form of sponsorship. Without all of the assistance from various businesses and individuals in the community it would have been very difficult to make the trip happen.”
The team played four games at the tournament, which saw teams travel from B.C. and Ontario to compete against the local Hawaiian teams.
“It’s difficult bringing a team over that hasn’t played on grass since the fall,” Day said. “They definitely had a hometown advantage being able to play all year round.”
The Cougars started the tournament off against a team from Shawnigan Lake, a school from the coast.
“It was a hard game for the girls, as it was their first time playing together outside, but they did very well,” Day said.
The second game saw the girls take on one of the local Hawaiian teams, Rush, in a tightly-contested 3-1 loss.
Their final game of the round robin was against St. Patrick’s of Vancouver.
“The game was tied with less than 10 minutes left and the girls had lots of chances to take the lead but they scored two quick goals at the end to win,” Day said.
The final game of the tournament was, ironically, played against a team that Columneetza has seen before — Prince George secondary.
“It was kind of funny that we ended up playing against them,” Day said. “Having only two subs for the tournament the girls were tired but they dominated the entire game. They were aggressive and challenged the ball as well as showing good sportsmanship. When we scored a goal with a few minutes left in the game the girls were ecstatic. It was an incredible game to win and the chaperones were just as excited as the girls!”
When the girls weren’t playing soccer they took part in a variety of activities that showcased the Hawaiian lifestyle. Day trips included hikes up Diamond Head National Park, a visit to Pearl Harbour Memorial, a day at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for some snorkelling and educational presentations and a full day Island tour and trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
“The Polynesian Cultural Centre and Island tour were one of the best days; they showcased all the different Polynesian Islands in terms of their daily activities, food, dance, etc.,” Day said. “It was also really fun to partake in a traditional Luau and the evening theatrical show was amazing.
“This was a once in a lifetime chance for these girls. They will have the pictures and memories to remember the trip for a very long time. It was a fabulous group of girls to take and the chaperones helped make the trip truly memorable.”
Next up for the girls regular season is a tournament in Kamloops at the end of the month, a series of games against some other local junior and senior teams and a possible home tournament in May. The girls will also be playing in the zone championships taking place in Williams Lake the second weekend in May.