With three teams from Mexico providing international flavour, Westview secondary held its second annual soccer exchange and international tournament over five days ending on Thursday.
There were eight girls teams and eight boys in the event, for students in Grades 8-10.
The boys final came down to a shootout between Tepeyac and Sullivan Heights. Sullivan Heights (Surrey) scored in the first few minutes of the game, but the Mexicans answered late to put the game into overtime.
Another 10 minutes of extra time decided nothing, but Sullivan Heights wins 5-4 in a shootout.
“The soccer is very good,” said organizer Dennis Schmidt. “The final went to a shootout, and it came down to the last shooter.”
The tall Surrey boys keeper dove for a Tepayac shot labelled for the top corner in the first round of the shootout, and that was the difference in the game.
In the girls final, Abbotsford Traditional was beaten by Sullivan Heights 2-0.
Schmidt played up the cross-cultural aspects of the event, with both teams’ national anthems playing before the final games, there is a parade of flags, and souvenir T-shirts for the players. The opposing Canadian coaches all tell him they want back in next year.
“The kids like the language on the other side of the field, and the international aspect to it,” he said.
He said the players can also see a marked difference in the style of play from the Latin players – they have more flair.
“The soccer culture is part of them. These kids have grown up with the game, and they passionate about their teams.”
Where Canadian coaches are content to have their players kick the ball ahead and run onto it, the Mexican players show more finesse and ball control skills, and their coaches ask them to make skillful plays.
The Westview girls won, tied and lost in three outings, while the Wildcat boys tied a game and lost two.
Schmidt explained that the Mexican players, from Guadalajara, are all home-stay students while they visit here for the tournament.
So too do Westview students live with Mexican families when they travel to Mexico for the other side of this soccer exchange.
Sports can span cultural barriers.
He remembers sitting in the home of his Mexican home stay host. The man was an engineer, and here was an educator, both knowing little of the other’s language, staring awkwardly at each other.
Finally Schmidt asked him “Chivas? Atlas?” referring to the two professional sides that his host might cheer for.
“And I see a spark in his eye, and pretty soon he’s naming players,” he said.
The event was sponsored by Soccer Xpress and Kelloggs – the latter giving cereals and snacks to the home stay parents for their guests.
“It takes a community to put on an event like this,” said Schmidt. “It is very much a friendly.
“Every single team wants to come back.”