The Nelson U17 Selects in action against Kootenay South at Lakeside pitch on Saturday.

The Nelson U17 Selects in action against Kootenay South at Lakeside pitch on Saturday.

Nelson proves Kootenay might

Nelson Youth Soccer is sending six of its eight rep teams to challenge for a provincial title in early July.

Nelson Youth Soccer is sending six of its eight rep teams to challenge for a provincial title in early July.

In provincial playdown action in Nelson and Cranbrook over the weekend, only two teams — the U14 and U16 girls — failed to earn the Kootenay berth.

“We’re pretty thrilled,” says Nelson Youth Soccer Association president Chuck Bennett. “It’s a real accomplishment, but the real test will come in a few weeks.”

The playdowns included teams from three other associations — Kootenay South (Trail, Rossland, Fruitvale and Castlegar), Kootenay East (Cranbrook and Kimberley) and Columbia Valley (Invermere). All of the boys sides (U13, U14, U15) triumphed over their regional rivals. On the girls side, the U13 and U17 Selects made it through the Kootenay challenge. The U17 boys received a bye.

“I think it basically comes down to the coaches,” says Nelson Youth Soccer technical director Dave Spendlove.

“All the coaches are preaching the same game philosophy and that has spread throughout the club… from house league through to rep.”

So what’s the secret?

“Our philosophy is to teach the kids possession soccer,” says Spendlove. “The theory being is that if we have the ball, the other team can’t score. Pretty simple.

“You have to train to do that of course, but if your team has the ball then the other team can’t score.”

The six local squads will now compete in the Provincial B tournaments in Powell River, Penticton and 100 Mile House.

This year larger organizations like Kelowna and Kamloops will be vying for provincial gold in the B Cup, so the Nelson teams will be coming in as underdogs.

“We are going to be up against really stiff competition this year,” says Spendlove. “The goal of the Nelson coaches this year should be to medal.”

Spendlove says if it wasn’t for key injuries, the U17 girls would have a pretty good shot at taking the title.

Other teams with a strong chance of being in the medals include the U13 girls and U15 boys.

Last season the U18 boys surprised many by bringing home a provincial title.

For more a detailed wrap of the weekend, see Friday’s Star.