Alma Libre Fútbol Academy playing under the Gorge Soccer Association banner will be competing in the Boys 14 division of the 2017 edition of the Gothia Cup. It advertises itself as the world’s largest and most international youth football tournament that will draw 1,759 teams from 82 nations that will play a total of 4,382 matches. The team play its first game Monday, July 17.

Saanich soccer team ready to take on the world in Sweden

Show me, don’t tell me.

As a coach with the Alma Libre Fútbol Club, Sergio Duran knows the value of this teaching principle. In fact, it has inspired the upcoming trip to the Swedish city of Gothenburg, where the team will compete in the Gothia Cup in the Boys 14 division.

The Gothia Cup advertises itself as the world’s largest and most international youth soccer tournament that will draw 1,759 teams from 82 nations that will play a total of 4,382 matches. The team plays its first game Monday, July 17.

While Sweden fields nearly half of the competing teams (856), the tournament draws teams from several nations considered leaders in soccer such as Germany, Brazil, Portugal, England and France – teams that Duran hope will make an impression on his team in their growth as players.

“We train the boys with the expectation that they be exposed to other styles of play,” he said.

Most of the team members left on Wednesday for London to acclimatize themselves before heading to Sweden. While in London, they will visit the stadiums of Arsenal and Chelsea FC, and watch games featuring soccer legends. They will play their first of three round-robin games on Monday, giving them just enough time to get over any jet-lag.

As one of 10 Canadian squads competing in the tournament, the Saanich team plays in a group with two teams from Sweden and one team from England. The first two teams of each group then advance to the knock-out stage. “If we won the first two playoff games, that would be a good outcome,” said Duran.

This will be the third time the non-profit academy associated with Braefoot Community Association is sending teams to the tournament. Duran says the trip would not have been possible without the help of Gorge Soccer Association under whose name the team is competing in the tournament.

“The support that they have given us is tremendous and this trip would not be possible without their help,” he said.

Aside from the opportunity to play against high-level competition, the trip promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the players, said Duran.

Being with their friends will be a unique experience and leave behind memories that will last forever, he said.