Altona U14 gets gold

Players involved in Altona's soccer program, which includes a U10, U12, and U14 coed team, along with coaches and sponsors. Supplied Photo

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Altona’s U14 soccer team recently took home the gold medal during the South Central Soccer League tournament, beating Morden 5-1.
Coach and technical director Rodrigo Bravo says this is the first year that Altona has been involved in the league, which includes teams from Winkler, Morden, Carman, Elm Creek and Notre Dame.
“I’ve worked for years to develop a soccer program in the community, so that there could be another sports option for kids who weren’t necessarily involved in baseball or hockey. This first season was incredible.”
The local program is made up of a U10, U12 and U14 co-ed team, led by Bravo, manager/coach Jackie Harms, along with coaches Megan Regier, Jonah Landelotz and Don Feaver.
Registration was held in April. In very quick order they managed to sign up 15 kids for each age category, and even had to put some on a waiting list.
“It was such an amazing turnout, and the whole season for all three teams was just a huge success. The progress they made was amazing. They developed from some kids not even knowing how to kick a ball to playing and making a big difference on the field.”
Bravo says he always knew there was a demand for another sports option in the community, and now he’s seeing the proof.
“Every day, I saw more and more improvement in all the players. We’re already looking forward to next year.”
Bravo wants to thank Sun Valley Co-op for their generous donations as one of the main sponsors for the South Central League. He also wants to thank Mandako Agri for supporting the Altona program with the funds for uniforms and equipment.
He has coached soccer at Parkside and W.C. Miller for years, which led to a desire to start an Altona league. “Any kid who is interested should look us up. We may even be able to double the number of teams next year.”
Along with the affordability factor, the benefits of soccer are huge, Bravo says.
“First, there are great fitness benefits, because it works out the whole body. Second, kids learn about sportsmanship. They play with and against players at varying levels of skill and experience, so they learn to play with everyone. Third, they learn to have fun.”
He adds that playing a sport like soccer teaches respect both on and off the field.
“They learn valuable lessons they’ll carry their whole life. I’ve been involved in soccer for most of my life, at an amateur, professional and Olympic level. It did me so much good, that now I want to give that back to the kids.”
About 100 people attended the season wind-up last week.
“Parents are saying how thankful they are that this program is offered in Altona. And we can see that appreciation in how supportive they are,” Bravo says.
“We want to thank them, as well as all the kids and coaches for making this such a great season. The program is here to stay, and we want to keep developing it.”