Martin C. Barry
A team of 11 young soccer players representing Ontario will be travelling to France in October to represent Canada in international playoffs after edging out a team from Quebec by a close score of 2 – 1 during the Danone Nations Cup Canadian Final which took place on June 25 at the Centre sportif Bois-de-Boulogne in Laval.
Best in Quebec
The annual Danone Nations Cup is billed as the world’s biggest youth soccer tournament. Two players from Laval, Audrey-Chelsie François and Samuel Sinzidi, played on the Quebec team which was made up of the best soccer players 10 – 12 years of age in the province. The 11 players on the Quebec team were chosen from a pool of around 1,000 candidates at selection camps held in May and June.
Players were selected for both their exceptional skills and team spirit. According to the organizers, a number of former Danone Cup participants have gone on to careers in professional soccer, including Canadian players Ashton Morgan of the Toronto FC, Maxime Crepeau of the Montreal Impact, Fraser Aird of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Marie Levasseur of the Canadian women’s national soccer team.
Laval was a proud host
“We’re proud to host the event today,” said City of Laval executive-committee vice-president David De Cotis who was on hand to officially get the game underway. “For the City of Laval, this is another way we are being pro-active by encouraging our youth to participate in all kinds of sports. Being active in sports is good for the body and the soul and it’s also good for the mind. We are always very pleased to be able to host this kind of event. It’s really an honour for Laval to welcome kids from all over Canada to come play in our city.”
Although the match didn’t turn out as Team Quebec would have preferred, it was closely contested all the same. Ontario gained a 1 – 0 lead early in the first half. Team Quebec evened it up shortly into the second. Quebec then suffered a critical setback when Ontario scored a second time on a penalty shot that easily got past Quebec’s goaltender with just five minutes left on the game clock. Following that, the local team wasn’t able to recover.
Flying to Paris in October
The members of Team Ontario, which won the right to represent Canada, will now be flying from Toronto to Paris on October 11. Once there, they’ll be undergoing training with Team Canada’s head coach Dean Howie and assistant coach Patrick Leduc. The entire delegation will be taking part in opening ceremonies for the Danone Nations Cup where they’ll also have the chance to meet soccer-playing youths from around the world.