— Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Tammy and Paul Allen don’t have to go far from their home on Pioneer Street to find their son Ethan if they have to track him down.
The 16-year-old Corner Brook High student is what many people would call “a field rat” because he spends so much of his time kicking around the soccer ball at the Wellington Street Sports Complex.
The Allen clan, which also includes former soccer players Keegan and Kelsey, moved to the city in 2002. Allen would have to make the trek across the west side to the Monarchs Complex when he first starting playing the game in Corner Brook, but he was in soccer heaven when the Wellington facility was completed in 2008.
“After it was finished, for a few summers, I spent every single day down at the field playing soccer with my friends,” Allen said of his daily diet of the game he calls his favourite sport.
Allen has certainly benefitted from having such an impressive soccer facility literally in his backyard. He found out recently that he earned a spot on the provincial Under-16 boys soccer team that will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the 2014 Atlantic Soccer Championships being staged this weekend in New Brunswick.
He was pretty happy to hear he made the team knowing he experienced disappointment only a year ago when he was cut from the provincial U15 squad.
“It kind of sucked because I put a lot of work into training and trying to get in the best shape I could,” he said.
Instead of wallowing in pity or putting his passion for the game in limbo, he opted to work even harder to improve his stock for this second kick at the can.
“I just wanted to prove myself basically,” he said.
It’s safe to say he did just that and coach Gerry O’Brien, who lives in Mount Pearl, is only too happy to have Allen along for the ride and hopes he can make a contribution as part of the back line.
“He tackles fairly firm. Clean, but firm so he doesn’t cause a lot of fouls or anything,” coach O’Brien said. “But, he does play hard, which is good. That’s what you want from a back.”
He believes Allen stacks up with well with others his age in the strength department, but he likes the fact Allen’s first pass is usually a good one.
“First touch is good so it can get us out of trouble pretty quickly with his passing ability and his ability I guess to see the field as the ball is coming to him,” said coach O’Brien, who also has the services of Logan McIssac of Stephenville, the only other team member from the west coast.
Allen just wants to continue playing the game and having fun with the guys he surrounds himself with on a regular basis.
“I want to be good enough to make it to the next level. That’s just my goal for now. I want to keep getting better and better,” he said.
He’s anxious to play against the best players from the other provinces to see exactly where is game stands and what he can do to improve. He is going to hit the pitch with pride because he appreciates his chance to play for the province he calls home.
“You want to go out and do the best you can and try to bring home a gold medal for your province,” he said.
“I’m really excited to see how I compare against guys from the other provinces,”he said.
“I just want to play the way I know I can.”
Coach O’Brien believes Allen brings a good work ethic and a positive attitude to the table so it makes for an enjoyable coaching experience for him.
“He’s a pretty easy-going guy. He’s not outspoken by any stretch, but he does what we ask him to do,” he said.
“He’s very, very coachable and that’s probably one of his biggest strengths is his coachability and his ability to modify what he’s doing fairly quickly if need be.”