When tryouts began last fall, Thornhill resident Koebe Isen was competing with nearly 5,000 soccer players between the ages of 10 and 12 across Canada for 24 spots in the 13th edition of the national Danone Nations Cup final at BMO Field.
He made the final cut on the Eastern Canadian team that shut out their Western counterparts 4-0 and in the process earned the right to represent Canada at the age-group international tournament in Poland in September.
The 5,000 players took part in 14 training camps before 140 were selected to participate in four provincial camps in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. The final group of 12 players were selected for the Canadian final.
“It was quite a process getting to the final stage,” said Isen’s dad, Dr. Jordie Isen. “I am really proud of him.”
The Wilshire Public School student and midfield player has come a long way in a short period of time. He started playing the sport five years ago with the Richmond Hill Raiders. He also played for Woodbridge Strikers before switching two years ago to Brampton East which won the AC Milan Continental Cup tournament in Cleveland last month.
“I watched my dad play and I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” said the Grade Seven student. “He was my inspiration.”
The married father of five was a skilful midfield player in his prime. A member of North York Rangers and Magic, he currently plays for Upsetters in the Durham Oldtimers League.
Isen says his son has a passion for the sport.
“I would say that’s something that we have in common,” said Dr. Isen. “But he far more technically advanced than I was when I was his age.”
Canada is among 40 countries that will take part in the international Danone Cup tournament in Warsaw from September 7 to 9. The national side will participate in a short training camp in Montreal before heading to Poland.
“I am really looking forward to playing in such a big tournament with so many players from around the world,” said the young Isen whose grandfather is Trinidadian-born educator, Ken Simon. “It’s going to be quite an experience.”
By RON FANFAIR