Humber women’s soccer team has been granted an incredible chance of a lifetime as they set their sights ‘come play football’ in Italy.
Many young athletes can only dream of the opportunity to play their sport abroad. But for a soccer player, Europe is more than a destination.
It’s the mecca of the sport, the grand stage for the world’s best footballers. The finesse, the touch, the tiki-taka, the “beautiful game.”
The Hawks’ women’s team is currently one of the top ranked and most feared competitors in the OCAA. The squad’s track record of winning three of the last five Ontario provincial titles makes it a top competitor in Canada’s collegiate circles.
But assistant coach, and former player, Filomena Aprile knows that playing in Italy exposes the team to a higher calibre of play.
“Undoubtedly the competition will be a great challenge,” said Aprile. “I believe the competition will be different in terms of the style they play.
“It’s always nice to play strong teams, which allows you to see what your weaknesses are and what you can improve on. It’s also an opportunity for coaches to see a different style of play that you may be able to use with your own team,” Aprile said.
Team travel is not only about playing the sport. Every team spends as much time together off the field as they do on. Team captain and left-fullback Justine Robb believes a two week stay in Rome and Venice will foster a greater bond among players.
“It’s about connecting as a team and developing that sense of family with overseas travels,” she said.
Associate director of athletics and recreation Michael Kopinak, and the rest of the Humber staff, are making their facilities and resources available to the women’s soccer team to aid fundraising efforts.
Humber Athletics has helped send other varsity members overseas but Italy is the first trip organized for the women’s soccer program.
“Athletics has already sent teams and individuals to a number of places. Off the top of my head (we have sent athletes) all over the U.S., to Cuba, Amsterdam, Bahamas, and Scotland,” said Kopinak.
The players recognize all their efforts will allow them to capitalize on life-changing opportunities to relish Italian culture and football.
“I, for one, never thought I would even play at the level I do now and to say that I’ll be playing on the same fields as some professionals is a dream come true,” said Robb.
“A country where the passion for the game is so high is a rare find and being exposed to that sort of culture is an experience I look forward to,” she said.