Sports

United excited to get started

Nanaimo United soccer player Jon McKenzie looks to pass the ball during a friendly against Cowichan earlier this month at Merle Logan Field. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo United soccer player Jon McKenzie looks to pass the ball during a friendly against Cowichan earlier this month at Merle Logan Field.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The Nanaimo United Div. 1 men have readied themselves best they can. Now they can’t wait to see how the season will unfold.

The city’s premier Vancouver Island Soccer League team begins a new season Saturday (Sept. 17) with a road game in Victoria against Juan de Fuca.

“I’m not really sure what to expect,” said Andrew Adams, team captain. “I know we’ll give everything we have.”

There is a sense of unknown because this year’s team is basically playing as a group for the first time.

The coach said it’s a mix of returning Div. 1 players, Div. 2 players who helped that team earn promotion last season, graduates of the U21 program and a few current U21 standouts.

“As with any new task, it’s initally quite a big step for them,” said Scott Davison, the new coach of Div. 1 United. “I anticipate there will be some hardships, there will be some question marks at points, but I’m sure they’ll rise to the occasion. They want to, so that’s the important part.”

All the United men trained as one group throughout the summer, with no real differentiation from the Div. 1 guys to the U21 guys.

“Even now we’re setting rosters,” said Davison, a few days before game day. “[We’ve] given lots of time for guys to show up and state their purpose.”

For the players who will suit up for the Div. 1 side, there are great rewards for making the team – as the season goes on they will get to play games against the VISL’s many storied clubs, such as Gorge and Sooke Celtic.

“It’s going to be mind-blowing for some of them,” Davison said.

United’s youth might be a positive in those games, Adams said. Since some youngsters don’t know what it’s like to play those premier teams, they don’t know to be intimidated.

“There’s lots of kids that are willing to prove themselves and they’re 100 per cent gung ho, full of energy,” Adams said.

The captain likes the team’s pace, he said, but said the young players will learn that there’s more to the men’s game than just foot speed.

“Every tackle’s a battle,” Adams said. “Everyone goes in 100 per cent, there’s no just sticking a foot in. There can be some big tackles that they’re not used to.”

Davison said he expects his team to play hard, since he sees a “great deal of desire” within the United club. They want to play, they want to play well and they want to win.

“At this level, they are totally success-oriented,” the coach said.

GAME ON … The first home game for United’s Div. 1 men will be Sept. 24 against Victoria West at 7 p.m. at Merle Logan Field. Please look for a preview of the home opener next week in the News Bulletin.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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