Breaking new football ground

Salmon Arm football player Matrix Gathergood charged his way through initial U18 Team BC tryouts, continuing his pursuit to represent the province at the 2011 Football Canada Cup.

Waiting: Matrix Gathergood continues to workout while waiting to hear if he has made the final cut for the BC U18 football team. He’s also trying to raise funds to allow him to attend the final tryouts.

Waiting: Matrix Gathergood continues to workout while waiting to hear if he has made the final cut for the BC U18 football team. He’s also trying to raise funds to allow him to attend the final tryouts.

Salmon Arm football player Matrix Gathergood charged his way through initial U18 Team BC tryouts, continuing his pursuit to represent the province at the 2011 Football Canada Cup.

During the May long weekend, 132 players, including Gathergood and Salmon Arm’s Kyle Jordan and Chris Szybunka, attended the Team BC mini-camp at Simon Fraser University.

“It’s pretty exciting. I didn’t think I would make it this far,” says Gathergood, a 17-year-old fullback who is one of 62 players advancing to the final stage of tryouts. “It would be a very big honour because no one from our town has done that before and I don’t think anyone from the Okanagan has done that either.”

On June 10, players on the cut-down roster will play in an exhibition/scrimmage game. To follow will be the announcement of the final 40-player roster. These athletes will form Team BC to compete at the 2011 Football Canada Cup held at the University of Lethbridge July 9 to 15.

For Gathergood, the selection process has been anything but easy.

“It has been very tiring, there is a lot of good competition to go against so I have to do my best at all the drills and whatnot. You always have to be a step above everyone else to be noticed,” he said. “One of the things coaching staff is looking for is attitude. Always running to drills, ‘yes coach, no coach,’ doing what you’re told without question, showing up early to meetings and practices.”

Salmon Arm Secondary Golds football coach Rob Neid says Gathergood is making the most out of the chance to represent B.C.

“He has been training really hard and he is in great condition. I think that has given him opportunity to do so well,” he said.

Gathergood agrees that he’s physically ready.

“I’m pretty much as fit as I can get right now so I’m going to keep it up, rest it up and do my best,” he says.

As for what making the team would mean to him, “It would be a good thing to say I have done and would give me more experience and more notice in the football community for future aspects.”

Gathergood, who started playing when he was 11, says he would like to play for the Kelowna Sun after he graduates next June. Until then, it’s all about making the final cut, something he couldn’t have done without Salmon Arm, he says.

“If it wasn’t for football in Salmon Arm, I would never have thought about it (trying out.) I wouldn’t have the experience or the chance to have this experience either.”

Neid says the football community is excited for Gathergood, and hopes his journey will continue all the way to the Cup.

“We are really proud of him,” says Neid. “I think we can take some pride knowing we are developing kids to a level where they can compete at the highest level in the province.”

Gathergood is determined to make Team BC, but faces funding difficulties. He must raise $1,000 by Thursday, June 9, in order to attend Friday’s game that will decide Team BC’s final roster. Those who wish to help may contact Rob Neid at 250-832-2188.