After our third youth season was over, we knew the next logical step would be to assemble an Elite team, combining the best players from our league, and go and compete at a National Youth Tournament. Since the US does not have such a tournament yet, the best option was to participate at the Canadian one, and so our goal was set.
Soren Mueller was chosen as Head Coach and Martin Bilello would assist him on this journey. Tryouts were organized in March, and a team comprised with the best available youth talent from the Bay Area was formed. The roster was: Ian Hodgson, Aidan Kavanagh, Michael Dozier, Kye McKeown, Conall Pederson, Earl Hampton, Nathaniel Ball, Vanja Markovic, Gabriel Gulchin, Easton Kreshel, and Anteneh Crosbie. The SF CalHeat Youth Elite Team started holding practices every Sunday with the goal of participating for the first time in an international competition.
Because of schedule conflicts none of the goalkeepers in the area could participate on the tournament, so we were forced to look for assistance somewhere else, that is how we came in contact with Jannik Lohne, who from Germany joined our team and completed our roster. In our search for some competition before the tournament we turned to SF CalHeat’s second men’s team and the B15 team preparing for Partille Cup.
With everything set, we embarked our flight to Edmonton, in the province of Alberta, one of the hotbeds of Team Handball in Canada, where we were going to compete with teams from Parkland, Central Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the locals Edmonton. After we settle down and visited the beautiful facilities at the Tri Leisure Place in Spruce Grove, we were ready to start the competition.
Our first day of competition saw us falling 31-10 with Central Alberta and 37-8 with Parkland. We were in need of more firepower and defensive adjustments to close the gap with our opponents. In our second day of competition we lost 32-16 with Edmonton, and in our best game of the tournament we fell 21-17 to Saskatchewan. All was left was a last game on Sunday, once again with Saskatchewan for the placement round. This time around our guys were a bit out of gas and the result was 29-19 for the Sask guys. Besides the results we established a great friendship between the two groups and programs.
The highlight of the tournament for us was having Jannik be selected as the goalkeeper of the second all-stars team of the tournament, and Easton be the second top goal scorer with 41 goals.
This tournament was for players aged 18 or younger, and save for 3, everyone else in our roster can participate on this tournament for at least two more years, so the experience they gained was tremendous and will benefit them in the years to come. We will participate once again next year, when the tournament will be held in Montreal, and we are sure our team will be even stronger, taller and more competitive.
Official Canadian Youth Nationals 2019 site: https://sites.google.com/view/canadianyouthnationals/