Let the fundraising and fun begin: Bottle drive to take place after long weekend

By Chadd Cawson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On the cleated heels of the successful Clash of the Titans Tournament last month, six players selected from the U15 team are on their way to an amazing experience at the B.C. Games in Prince George next month from July 21 to 24. 

The first set of tryouts for players were divided into boy and girl players and was held in Cranbrook. “For the first tryouts for the girls, the high school girls’ teams were playing in Fernie that day, so their amazing coach Mike den Otter, personally drove them from Fernie to Cranbrook for the tryouts,” said soccer club Chair, Rhiannon Tutty.

 Selected players were invited for a second tryout; All eight of the boys that tried out were invited to Nelson, while two girls were invited to Creston to put their best foot forward. In the end, Jackpine Dainard, Caden McMurray, Leo Webster, Findlay Whittick, and Lucas Grieve were the five boys, while Tessllin Oliver was the only girl player who plays goalie that made it from our U15 Titans.

“I’m a little overwhelmed flying solo, especially since I’m so close to my other teammates,” says Oliver. I wish some of them could be there with me, but I’m also very excited for this experience.

The boys and girls have already begun practicing together as a Kootenay team, one of eight in the region that participate in central locations such as Creston, Nelson, and Cranbrook. “Practices require the entire Kootenay team to get together as frequently as possible in the short window of time before they compete,”says Tutty. “The boys’ team is still organizing, but for Tess she has already had practices in Creston with more to come and has exhibition games already scheduled in Cranbrook and an overnight camp in Trail, all before she heads to Prince George.”

They will all be flown to Prince George and travelling together as a team. They will not only get to participate in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the B.C. Games but will also sleep in the athletes’ accommodations, dine together, plus have full uniforms, kit bags, water bottles, and even travel outfits.

“We are honoured and excited that our kids have this opportunity,” said Catrien Dainard, board member, and mother of Jackpine, one of the boys selected.

This exciting opportunity also comes with a bit of an urgent financial commitment and the community has a chance to assist with their fundraising efforts. The cost per player is $175 for registration for B.C. games, plus approximately $350 for gear, travel and other costs which means each player needs a minimum of $525 to cover all costs in a short window of time. Canada Day is certainly something to celebrate but so is this opportunity for these young players. So, save your bottles after the long weekend, as a bottle drive will be taking place to help our Titans kick it and B.C. for the experience of a lifetime.

“We are doing a bottle drive the week after the long weekend. We also hope to approach the local restaurants, bars and pubs to make arrangements to collect and pick up their bottles after x long weekend,” says Tutty.  

There is a drop off location at 1324-12th Ave in Invermere. All donations are welcome and those who would like to contribute please reach out to Rhiannon Tutty at 250- 341-7171 or [email protected] and arrangements will be made to come by.   

Opportunities like this don’t only help community soccer grow in our community and showcase amazing athletes but it will be an experience these players will keep with them forever.

 “I am so proud of all these athletes. Especially in this year of growth and getting our cleats back under us, after a forced break. It is amazing that these players have stepped up.  It is a lot of work for them, not just playing hard on the field, but fitting the commitment in and the travel and extra work,” says Tutty. “Many of these players do have an intention to continue with their soccer careers, and hopefully this experience will open further opportunities and help them grow as athletes. It has also been an amazing opportunity for the parents as well.  We are all soccer volunteers, some are board members, and of course all are supportive parents!  It warms your heart to have your child succeed in something they love especially when we have all dedicated so much time in supporting them and continuing to support them.  We also get to share in these successes!”