Rebecca Sherstobetoff of Corner Brook, right, tries to evade an unidentified player from Burin at the 2013 mega soccer tournament held in Carbonear. — Submitted photo
CORNER BROOK Rebecca Sherstobetoff believes she has the potential to get better with every kick of the soccer ball so she has no qualms about being committed to her sport 12 months of the year.
She is one of the budding Corner Brook female soccer players in the Under-14 age group who could be honing their skills all winter if she gets her wish.
The Corner Brook Minor Soccer Association is trying to form a pool of female players who are interested in playing the game at a higher level next summer. It hopes to have 18 female players in the Under-14 age group train all winter long to prepare for participation in either the provincial Under-14 female soccer league or enter the team in the provincial Under-14 mega tournament.
CBMSA technical director Doug Sweetapple believes it’s time to focus energy on developing the skillset of budding female soccer players in Corner Brook and putting a team together to train over the winter is a step in helping local players take their game to the next level.
“It looks like we turned the corner on the number of girls who are playing,” Sweetapple said earlier this week.
An open tryout for female players interested in playing in the U14 mega tournament or provincial league will be held Friday (7:30-8:30 p.m.) and Saturday (12-1 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.) — at the Wellington Street Sports Complex to guage interest for next summer.
Sherstobetoff has been playing soccer since the age of four and enjoys the game because it is a good workout. She gets to travel and meet people and gets to derive benefits from playing a team sport and working as a cohesive group toward a common goal.
“I’m kind of nervous because there’s so many girls trying out, but I’ll be excited if I make it,” the daughter of Keith and Renee Sherstobetoff said.
Over the past few years, Western had representation in provincial leagues on the male side in both the Under-14 and Under-16 age groups, but couldn’t come up with the numbers to look at entering the provincial scene on the female side.
In recent years, Sweetapple said, the local association scrambled around trying to get players to buy into participation of a provincial league but it was always left to late.
He figures the key to making it happen is implementing a training program for the girls to work on their skillsets during the winter months. He believes the numbers are there to form a team for provincial play, but he also believes consideration has to be given to the talent level so the only way to ensure the players are better prepared for the test at the next level is to be training all winter.
“You don’t want to enter a league that every game you play you lose 7-0,” he said.
Having a pool of committed players on the same page for months and months heading into the summer will improve the stock of the team when stacking up against some of the talented teams on the east coast of the province, according to Sweetapple.
“The talent is there it just needs to be developed,” he said. “Once you get the numbers I think it follows that you got more competition for spots and everything improves.”
Sherstobetoff believes every player is focused on being the best they can be has to work hard to set them apart from the rest of the pack. She’s ready to embrace a training schedule that will keep her focused on soccer all winter if that’s what it takes to earn a spot on the team.
She thinks a huge commitment to fitness and developing her skillset all year long is the key to being her best. She said it’s not so much about winning as it is being able to hold your own on the pitch.
“I think we’d be way better players if we practised year round,” she said, noting more effort has to be put into training if the west coast wants to compete with the teams on the east coast.
Looking at the numbers, Sweetapple is confident the timing is right to forge ahead with a change in direction. While he sees a group of 18 players being selected to train, based on those who attended the tryouts, all winter long, he is quick to point out that it’s not necessarily the final roster to be used next summer. He said some players might not find their way onto the roster at this time of the year, but could very well work hard over the winter and earn a spot in the spring of the year. There are others who also think once they were selected to the team they could rest on their laurels but that’s not something Sweetapple recommends because those individuals could very well be on the outside looking in when summer rolls around.
“Once they make the team they figure ‘I’m in’ and they either don’t show up to practice or work hard,” he said of the mindset some players fall into.
While two options remain on the table for next summer, Sweetapple is taking a realistic approach with those involved with development of the female players in the U14 age group. He believes entry in the mega tournament next summer is probably the best place to be at this stage because the top six teams in the province aren’t allowed to participate because you can’t play in both events.
“So, the level of play is going to be lower and I think for us that may be the best thing for this year,” he said of the Mega option.