STELLARTON – Another chapter, or at least noteworthy footnote, was added to the annals of Pictou County sports history.
The newly formed North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Team Nova Scotia soccer club — a team made of First Nations youth from across the province — played its first matches against the Northern Nova United Soccer club last Sunday at the William Sobey indoor soccer complex.
NNU coach Jackie Fitt-Ryan said the exhibition matches featuring boys and girls teams came about when she was approached by Vance Kruszewski, who heads up the Nova Scotian NAIG teams.
“He just kind of asked if we would put a team together,” she said. “He told me what his program was and what they were looking to do. He had this turf time booked and he was looking just for some exhibition play, so I told him that I could get two teams together from our club.”
Fitt-Ryan said her teams were made of players from the winter as well as past summer play. Most of them had played together prior, but not in these particular rosters.
“It was nice that they came to Northern Nova,” she said. “There are other clubs in the region and they chose us. That’s an honour, for sure.”
Teams were made of students from grades 8 to 12, or ages 12 to 18.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to play,” she said. “They were thrilled to do it. We don’t get to play a lot of games in the winter.”
Although her boys beat the NAIG team 5-0, she was impressed with what she saw from the competition.
“I don’t think the score reflected the game,” she said. “It was more competitive than what the score said, for sure.
“They kept possession well,” she said. “Our teams probably were a bit more used to playing with each other, and that was probably an advantage for us.”
The North American Indigenous Games soccer competitions will take place in July in Toronto.
Cameron Matheson, left, of the Northern Nova United Soccer Club boys, controls the ball against his North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Team Nova Scotia opponent on Sunday in Stellarton. (Cameron photo)