Beautiful weather Saturday got the Port McNeill Mud Bowl tournament off to a spectacular start. Sunday, on the other, hand was more in keeping with what the North Islanders expects during soccer season – cold, windy with a bit of rain (but not enough to dampen spirits). In total, there were 50 teams, 102 games played this weekend, kids as young as three and all the way up to 18 participated, approximately 615 players!
We had teams from Port Hardy, Alert Bay and Port McNeill. Two very classy teams travelled from Nanaimo and Ladysmith to play in the U12 boys’ division, which certainly gave that division some healthy competition.
The four tots teams stole the show on Saturday, playing four games in total. These gritty players, ages 3 and 4, delighted fans with their soccer and ‚‘non-so-soccer’ antics.
The mini divisions, U6, U8, U10 saw fierce competition as well. Each team played 4 games a piece and were awarded prize bags from the tournament organizers. The U10 field got muddier as the weekend went by and certainly lived up to the tournament’s name. Let the laundry begin!
At the U12 division, U12 Girls Port McNeill 1 won the game against Port Hardy 2. In the boys final, Ladysmith edged out Alert Bay, who played short both days. One of the best parts of playing in U12 Mud Bowl is Bobbi Ball, who refs most of the games. She gives players encouragement and instruction and by the end of the weekend, she knows the players names by heart!
In U15 final action, U15 Girls Port McNeill 1 lost to Port Hardy 1. Port McNeill boys 1 played Port Hardy boys 1. It looked like it would be a close game until Nigel Walkus was injured in an accidental collision and then the Port McNeill team took over and the score ended with Port McNeill victorious.
The U18 final is our highest level of soccer and some of the players played in their last mudbowl ever. The two Port Hardy teams faced one another in the final, PH1 seemed to gain momentum over the weekend and ultimately came out on top.
One of the tournament coordinators, Cyndy Grant, stated that the success of the weekend is due to the large volunteer effort. “I actually had people calling me to ask if there was anything they could do.
“Thank you to everyone who took part before, during and after, to make this a great weekend for our kids: Port McNeill Youth Soccer executive, coaches, managers, officials, concession staff, garbage collectors, field managers, schedulers, prize coordinators, and everyone who contributed – big or small.”