The Northwest United U15 male soccer team won gold in their division and will be representing B.C. at the 2020 North American Indigenous Games in Halifax. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

Northwest United 15U soccer team moves onto 2020 North American Indigenous Games

Winning gold at the Provincial Indigenous Soccer Championships, players compete in Halifax next year

The Northwest United 15U male soccer team won gold this weekend, making them the BC representatives for their division in the 2020 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Halifax.

Soccer players from across B.C. competed for the top spot at the 2019 Provincial Indigenous Soccer Championships that took place in Terrace this year from Aug. 23 to 25.

The championships featured 18U and 15U male and female teams that battled it out at Christie Park, where athletes brought out their best to play. Each division saw winners from different regions, with Vancouver Coastal taking the top spot for the 15U female category, Island United for the 18U male and Fraser for the 18U female.

“We’ve got some healthy rivalries here between our regions, putting the best of their best together to come and compete,” says Lara Mussell Savage, Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council director of sport at the event.

“And it’s not just about a celebration of sport. Yes, it is about the pursuit of excellence in the sport context but there’s also this cultural unity and pride that really differentiates the provincial Indigenous soccer event from another soccer event.”

READ MORE: Providing athletic opportunities for First Nations’ youth

With First Nations, Inuit and Metis youth partaking in the provincials, Savage says the event was a great way for athletes to form friendships and be a part of something great.

As a qualifying year for the upcoming NAIG, they had over 300 participants that all came with their families to compete in Terrace. A traditional opening ceremony was held on the Friday at George Little Park to welcome everybody.

She adds B.C. is known to have a strong representation in soccer at the NAIG and is looking forward to next year.

“We won the gold medal for all the divisions of soccer, so we are going to be going into these games with the reputation of having very strong soccer skills, athletes and players.”

READ MORE: Indigenous athletes honoured at Premier Awards

The NAIG will be held in Halifax from July 12 to 18, 2020.

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