Nelson’s Matteo Faraguna spends a lot of time thinking about soccer.
The 12-year-old offensive player, who competes in a number of other sports, has been making a name for himself as a extraordinary member of Nelson Youth Soccer. While competing in Kelowna earlier this year he was head-hunted by a member of the Thompson Okanagan Football Club (TOFC), and then invited to try-outs.
He’s now been selected to join their team, which is a part of the B.C. Soccer Premier League (BCSPL).
“I’m really excited about this because not many people in the Kootenays get this opportunity, so it’s a real privilege,” said Faraguna, who was coached this year by Brett Adams, Sam Heap and Ian Harvey. He said his achievement wouldn’t have been possible without them.
“They were really good coaches for me. They improved my game and helped me to get to this standard of soccer. I also want to thank my Dad and everyone at NYS for helping me.”
Matteo’s father Al said he’s thrilled about the opportunity.
“Brett opened the door for Matteo to attend the try-out, which was the last week of June. The try-outs were in Vernon and had approximately 40 of the best players from the Okanagan, Prince George, Victoria and the Kootenays. We are very proud of his quality of play and determination and how he showed he deserved to be there,” said Al.
“He made it back for the invite-only session the following Tuesday, and we got the news on Wednesday that he had made the team. He was one very excited boy to see his name on the final roster of the TOFC website.”
Matteo started training camp on Aug. 10, going through until Sept. 3, in the Okanagan. His first competition will be in Surrey on the Labour Day Long Weekend.
Adams said Faraguna is a prime example of the sort of talent they’re developing through the Nelson Youth Soccer program.
“We’re trying to find ways for our players to be exposed to other talented players in the province. This is a stream we want our better players to go through, and Matteo is the first of many who will be leaving this area to play in that league,” said Adams.
Faraguna is the first player to achieve this since 2013.
“His family is rearranging their lives around him, to give him this opportunity. It ups his chances of getting a scholarship and gives him the opportunity to be exposed to different players and coaches. But most important is that the Whitecaps and BC Soccer have formed this link, so that if we find players who aren’t quite ready for the Whitecaps we send them over to the BCSPL.”
Faraguna said he admires players like Chile’s Alexis Sanchex and Belgium’s Eden Hazard, who he learned about while playing FIFA 15. He aspires to follow in their footsteps and one day have a virtual video game avatar of himself while he plays professionally.
He said his main strength is his speed, developed with coach Alex Ulaszonek of Kootenay Chaos Track and Field.
“I’m an offensive player and I like to do a lot of sports that help me out, like track and soccer and other sports, which improves my game. I’m the guy who just runs up, when I get the ball, or rush in when a goalie makes a mistake.”
His next goal is to qualify for the new High Performance Programming (HPP) league.