Saibo Talic, head coach of the European Football School, a soccer school of excellence based out of Vancouver, likes to reward his players.
For five young Williams Lake soccer players that reward will come as the experience of a lifetime this summer.
Two university players — Laura Smylie and Emily Robertson — and three Williams Lake Youth Soccer rep players — Isabella Ruby, Meagan Cook and Vanessa Hansen — will be travelling to Gothenburg, Sweden in July to play for Talic’s EFS teams in the 2011 Gothia Cup, the World Youth Cup of soccer.
“Some of these kids [from Williams Lake] have been coming to Vancouver over the years to practice with my team every month,” Talic said. “I really appreciate them coming 500 kilometres and staying and playing over the weekend and this is just kind of a reward for players and parents.”
All of the young women who have been selected this year have also attended EFS Camps in Williams Lake.
While in Europe, the quintet will also be touring from July 11-24 with Talic competing against German provincial teams, as well as wrapping up their tour playing Denmark’s top provincial clubs.
In addition, the group will also have the privilege of attending the semi-final of the FIFA World Women’s Soccer Championships while in Germany.
Smylie, who plays for Thompson Rivers University, and Robertson, who attends the University of Calgary, will play for Talic’s EFS U18/19 team while Ruby, Hansen and Cook will compete for his EFS U17 team.
Ruby and Cook are both Grade 11 students at Williams Lake secondary, while Hansen is a Grade 10 student at Columneetza secondary.
“This is the first time I’m taking teams to this tournament [the Gothia Cup],” Talic said. “This is big. The opening ceremony will have 60,000 people and the tournament will have 1,200 teams from all over the world.”
The Gothia Cup is divided into divisions one, two and three. Talic’s teams will be competing at the top level (division one) in the tournament.
He said all of the players he selected exhibit great qualities he looks for in players, as well as exceptional soccer skills.
“Meagan, she plays outside midfield and striker. She has great speed, very good control of the ball and good scoring ability,” Talic said. “Isabella is a very intelligent and powerful centre midfielder with lots of unpredictable play. She has good vision and she handles the ball really well.
“Vanessa, for such a young player, is very mobile and quick, and she has a good shot.”
Talic added both Smylie, a striker, and Robertson, a defender, will be great additions to his EFS U18/19 club.
“Laura has an unbelievable shot and dribbling,” he said. “And Emily is a seriously strong girl, very nice and coachable.”
In preparation for the European tour, Talic took three players to Kamloops from May 27-29 to compete at the 2011 Kamloops Slurpee Cup.
Ruby and Cook played for the EFS U17 team and went undefeated in the tournament to win. The other player (not going to Europe), is Jordan Schofield, who played for Talic’s U17 boys team.
For youth soccer players in Williams Lake, Talic is no stranger and his EFS Soccer Camp is a summer staple. This year’s camp, the eighth annual, will run from July 11-15 at the Esler Sports Complex.
“Due to the trip I’ll only be there for two days but I’m bringing three very good coaches,” he said.
Anyone ages seven to 18 can sign up for the Williams Lake Camp through the Williams Lake Youth Soccer Association. Local teams are also welcome to sign up.
Talic said he truly enjoys visiting Williams Lake every year for the camp, and said the hospitality exhibited from the community is amazing.
“I really want to say thanks to all the people from Williams Lake, and the people in the soccer association,” he said.
“They’re a pleasure to work with and I enjoy it.”
For more information on the camp, or to sign up, contact Jamie Tannis at 250-392-4761 or by e-mail at kickboxingjamie@gmail. com, or visit www.europeanfootballschool.com.