National and national youth alumni at the Challenge Trophy
Twenty-five players with national team or national youth team experience will participate in this year's National Championships Challenge Trophy competition from 3-8 October 2012 in Winnipeg, MB. Nearly half of that group plays for British Columbia champions Surrey United, including 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup winner Jeff Clarke and two-time CONCACAF Gold Cup participant Niall Thompson.
Thompson is in fact the player-coach of Surrey United. The 38-year old forward made nine appearances for Canada from 1993 to 2000. He twice scored for Canada in Men's International Friendly matches played at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, once in 1995 against Turkey and then again in 1998 against FYR Macedonia. He represented Canada at both the 1993 and 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments.
Clarke made 19 appearances for Canada from 1997 to 2002, scoring an international goal against Trinidad and Tobago at Varsity Stadium in Toronto in 2000. He helped Canada win the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the nation's second confederation championship. Along with his duties as a player for Surrey United's men's team in the Challenge Trophy competition, he is also the head coach of the defending champion Surrey United in the women's Jubilee Trophy competition (also to be played in Winnipeg from 3-8 October).
Other players in this year's competition with national team experience are Steve Kindel of Surrey United (four matches in 1998-99), Brad Peetoom of Surrey United (no matches in 2006), and Chris Lemire of Edmonton Scottish (no matches in 2004). Along with three players that have national Beach Soccer team experience, there are 17 other players with national youth team experience. The youngest is 17-year old Ryan Pereira (who plays alongside brother Michael with AEK London) and the oldest is 45-year old Lewis Page of PEI FC (he played for Canada's youth team in 1986).
Page is in fact the oldest player in this year's competition, older than three other 40-something players: Jamie Sawler of Halifax City (42), Kent Kowalski of HUSA Alumni (41) and Paul Azevedo of AEK London (40). Page last participated in the Challenge Trophy competition in 2007. Two years ago, he was part of the Challenge Trophy-winning staff for Prince Edward Island's first-ever national championship team, the 2010 Churchill Arms-Charlottetown Abbies SC.
Page also has experience as a national coach, helping Canada's women's team win gold at the 2011 Pan American Games (as an assistant coach to John Herdman) and Canada's women's U-17 team win gold at the 2010 CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship (as an assistant coach to Bryan Rosenfeld).
Along with Page, one other national coach is participating as a player at this year's Challenge Trophy competition: Robert Gale of FC Winnipeg Lions. The 35-year old midfielder is currently head coach of Canada's men's U-18 team. Just last year, he was an assistant to U-17 coach Sean Fleming at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011.
As for staff at this year's competition, player-coach Thompson is not the only former national player. FC Winnipeg Lions coach Tony Nocita made nine appearances for Canada from 1987 to 1992. A Challenge Trophy winner as a player in 2002 (when the Lions were known as Sons of Italy), Nocita now hopes to lift the Canadian trophy as a coach in 2012.
NATIONAL TEAM / NATIONAL YOUTH TEAM / NATIONAL BEACH SOCCER TEAM EXPERIENCE:
Surrey United - goalkeeper Paul Shepherd, defenders Steve Kindel, Stefan Leslie, Steve McCauley, Brad Peetoom, Brayden Volkenant, and midfielders/forwards Angus Burke, Jeff Clarke, Nicola Perugini, Andrew Proctor, Vince Stewart and Niall Thompson.
Edmonton Scottish - centre back Kyle Bartkus and midfielders/forwards Paul Dhaliwal, Daniel Drummond, Vikram Kaushal, Chris Lemire, and Kyle Yamada.
AEK London - midfielders Michael Pereira and Ryan Pereira.
Fredericton Picaroons Reds - midfielder Kenneth Morrison.
Halifax City - centre back Rory Kennedy.
Saskatoon HUSA Alumni - midfielder Mark Korthuis.
PEI FC - midfielder Lewis Page.
Royal Sélect Beauport - goalkeeper Vincent Cournoyer.