TYSON WHITNEY PHOTOS The Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide held a soccer camp at the Port Hardy Secondary School soccer pitch on Sunday.

Marine Harvest Riptide camp draws crowd at Port Hardy soccer pitch

The Port Hardy Secondary School soccer pitch was taken over by high class coaches teaching youth the moves needed to become stronger athletes.

Roughly 100 kids from all over the North Island attended the Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide camp in Port Hardy, which ranged in ages from U6 to U18.

This was the third annual event and the number of participants has continued to be steady each year as soccer fever continues to infect the North Island.

Riptide U18 Girls coach Scott Harris was on hand to lend his 20+ years of soccer coaching expertise, as well as local Riptide U18 players Jaylon Grenier and Seth Hanuse, who were there volunteering as Port Hardy mentors.

Grenier loves playing the game and has been a part of the Riptide program since U15. He said he enjoys giving back because “it’s nice to help the community” and as a youth mentor coach for the Riptide camp this year, he wanted to “scout prospects for the upcoming teams.”

Shel Brodsgaard, Director of Soccer Operations, noted the Riptide are committed to holding camps here on the North Island, because they want to “help develop the game and raise awareness for our program — we are always constantly scouting new players.”

Brodsgaard added they work on basics with the youth, mainly, “passing, dribbling, juggling, movement with and without the ball — just raising awareness for what it means to be in a practice, because that’s definitely the main thing with the younger kids, being able to pay attention and receive information. But most importantly, just having a lot of fun. We mix in our mentor coaches with every group to help push the kids and give them some models to follow.”

The Riptide have scouted three players from Alert Bay recently who will be playing for the program next season, and for the first time ever, they will be sending a Riptide team (the undefeated U18 girls) to compete at Alert Bay’s June Sports soccer tournament June 15-17.

The Riptide are sponsored by Marine Harvest, and Brodsgaard pointed out just how big the company’s involvement in the program really is. “Being able to offer this camp free of charge is huge — Marine Harvest is an amazing sponsor for us, we’re really lucky to be able to use their contributions to help us do things like this, and they really benefit our program.”

As for the skill level of youth soccer players on the North Island, Brodsgaard said “There’s some skill for sure,” before noting that kids on the North Island only play roughly two-three months a year, whereas kids down island play roughly 10 months a year, but he added the kids that do play “are super passionate up here.”

The Riptide is the Upper Vancouver Island ‘North’ regional franchise of the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL). The franchise is comprised of eight teams – a boys and a girls team each in the U14, U15, U16 and U17-18 age divisions.

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