Surrey soccer club Coastal FC to host national championship

SURREY — Even though some of the players may be busy studying for midterms, playing with university teams or spending Thanksgiving with their family, two Surrey soccer teams will represent B.C. at the national club championships.

Coastal Football Club’s under-18 girls’ team and Surrey United’s under-18 boys’ team both qualified to play in the tournament after winning the BC Premier Cup in their divisions.

Coastal FC is also preparing to host the 2014 National Championships U-18 Cup at South Surrey Athletic Park over the upcoming long weekend.

Chris Murphy, Coastal FC’s executive director, said it is an honour to be named as hosts for the tournament.

"For us to be considered as a host is a feather in the cap of the club. We think that we have some of the best facilities in the country and a highlevel organization," he told the Now.

"We expect it will be a top-class event that people will enjoy and remember being part of."

All of the matches will be played at South Surrey Athletic Park, using six grass and two turf pitches. Murphy said it’s great that there are two Surrey teams playing in a major tournament hosted in their hometown.

"Having two Surrey-based teams playing in their backyard … will be a special opportunity (for them to play) in front of their friends and family."It’s really the end of the youth career for these players. It’s an opportunity for us to get them in one venue to create a tournament-style environment with a high level of competition."

Bob Birarda has been a head coach of the U-18 girls’ team for six years and said it is an honour to compete at the national championships on home soil.

"It’s incredible to be able to play on the field that we’ve played on together for the last number of years," said Birarda.

Last season, the squad qualified for the same tournament in Newfoundland and finished fourth despite being a U-17 squad.

Jeff Clarke, the technical director and head coach of the Surrey United U-18 boys’ team, said that playing a tournament close to home brings its own challenges, such as the distractions of friends and family.

"Most times we relate going to nationals with having to travel to Nova Scotia, Halifax and places like that," said Clarke.

"This one’s different and will be great that it’s in your backyard, but there’s other challenges that are associated with that."

Like Birarda’s team, Clarke has been limited to two practices with his squad prior to the championships because of his players’ commitments to university soccer.

Both teams went undefeated in their respective leagues.

The opening ceremonies of the championships is on Oct. 8 at 4:45 p.m. at South Surrey Athletic Park.

For the tournament schedule and results, visit Canadasoccer.com/u-18-cup-s15494.

kyle.benning@gmail.com

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