Count­down to The Games: Fran­cois Caron writes about soc­cer and moun­tain bik­ing in his weekly look at the Is­land ath­letes who will be com­pet­ing in Win­nipeg this sum­mer

Soc­cer squads, moun­tain bike team prepar­ing for Canada Games

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

Team P.E.I. will host their ath­lete rally tonight at 7 p.m. at the Delta Prince Ed­ward in Char­lot­te­town and this is when the ex­cite­ment re­ally starts to build.

This evening, the ath­letes will see they are part of a much big­ger team than their own in­di­vid­ual sport. Tonight will be a great chance to build on the ex­cite­ment of the Games and cel­e­brate the 50 years P.E.I. has been a part of it while pro­vid­ing the op­por­tu­nity to send off in style the more than 300 mem­bers of Team P.E.I.

Win­nipeg is host­ing this year’s Games from July 28 to Aug. 13.

The rally is open to the public. Three of the teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in the rally are the men’s and women’s soc­cer teams and the moun­tain bike team.

Soc­cer has been a main­stay of the Canada Games with it be­ing on the cal­en­dar ev­ery four years since 1969. It was only the men’s pro­gram for the first six Games and then the women’s cham­pi­onship was added in 1993.

Both teams will play at the Ralph Cantafio Soc­cer Com­plex with women’s team com­pet­ing dur­ing the first week of com­pe­ti­tion while the men’s squad com­pete in Week 2.

Women’s soc­cer

The women’s soc­cer team has been ac­tive this spring and early sum­mer play­ing in the New Brunswick premier league.

The com­pe­ti­tion has been great for the team as all the matches have been one-goal games and they re­cently played to a 1-1 tie ver­sus the first-place Co­diac First Touch squad from the Monc­ton area.

P.E.I. will play the New Brunswick Canada Games team this Fri­day in Fredericton, N.B., and will have a cou­ple of more matches be­fore the Games in Win­nipeg.

The Graeme McDon­ald­coached team will be in a pool with On­tario and the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries and will play those two teams to de­ter­mine whether they move onto the quar­ter-fi­nal or play in the con­so­la­tion pool.

The team has been work­ing well as a unit and is look­ing for great re­sults in Win­nipeg.

Men’s soc­cer

On the men’s side, Lewis Page is once again lead­ing the team af­ter coach­ing the 2001 and 2009 P.E.I. teams at the Games.

This year’s team has been busy train­ing for the past two sea­sons. In 2016, they trav­elled to Win­nipeg to play three games, in­clud­ing two against Team Man­i­toba, and had the op­por­tu­nity to train with the un­der-20 men’s na­tional team coach Rob Gale.

This year, the team par­tic­i­pated in two show­case tour­na­ments and trav­elled to Que­bec to com­pete against their Canada Games team. The team is now par­tic­i­pat­ing in the New Brunswick premier league and will play against Al­berta and On­tario in their first round at the Games.

The team does have some Canada Games ex­pe­ri­ence as Ryan Boswall and Ryan Low­ery com­peted in the 2015 Games in Prince Ge­orge, B.C., and as­sis­tant coach Kris McKin­non at­tended the 1997 Games in Bran­don, Man.

Moun­tain bike

The moun­tain bike team fea­tures two male and two fe­male cy­clists who will com­pete dur­ing the first week of the Games at Bi­son Butte Moun­tain Bike Course.

For those who have never watched a moun­tain bike race be­fore, it is cer­tainly an ex­cit­ing and en­ter­tain­ing sport. These ath­letes work their way up and down the moun­tain while ne­go­ti­at­ing a va­ri­ety of nat­u­ral and man-made ob­sta­cles at im­pres­sive speeds.

The Bon­nie Hay­den-coached team was re­cently in Ver­mont for a train­ing camp where the rid­ers logged lots of time on their bikes hon­ing their skills. The team has also been en­joy­ing good re­sults at re­cent com­pe­ti­tions in Nova Sco­tia and P.E.I. They hosted the Tour de Pants Sun­day at the Brook­vale Nordic Park.

In Win­nipeg, the team will com­pete in the cross coun­try, sprint and team re­lay events. Fran­cois Caron is the cen­tral re­gion co-or­di­na­tor for the sport, recre­ation and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity divi­sion of the P.E.I. De­part­ment of Health and Well­ness. He has at­tended nine Games and will be Team P.E.I.’s as­sis­tant chef de mis­sion dur­ing the sec­ond week of the 2017 Canada Games.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Stan­ley Bridge’s Mar­i­lyn Sheen races in the Tour de Pants Sun­day at the Brook­vale Nordic Park. The event is the third stage of the Cy­cling P.E.I. Cit­i­zen Moun­tain Bike Se­ries.

Fran­cois Caron

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