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'Celebrating culture': Youth soccer tournament gives players World Cup experience

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A youth soccer tournament in Regina is giving players the FIFA World Cup treatment.

The WCP Cup brought players from across the country to the city for a four-day tournament. But players played for country, not their club.

“Every little kid looks to the World Cup and wants to be in that atmosphere,” said WCP Athletics Vice-President Kia Holness. “We wanted to bring that to Regina.”

Over 95 teams participated in this year’s tournament with players ranging from U9 to 45-plus.

30 countries were represented on the pitch.

“It creates an atmosphere that celebrates culture, diversity and brings people together,” Holness said.

Before each game, both nation’s anthems were played.

Players on each team were not necessarily from the country they played for.

Hana Fong is Canadian but played for Team France.

She said it was a bit weird beating Canada in the final.

“But France is better,” Hana added.

Each team did have three or four members of heritage to represent each nation.

Cyrus played for Team Uganda, where his family is from.

“Our teammates aren’t from Uganda,” he said. “But we got to teach them the anthem and how to dance.”

Holess said the tournament uses sport to connect cultures.

“It’s really cool to see all the teams uncover their heritages,” she added.

While a replica FIFA World Cup trophy was handed out to each division’s winner, the experience was about more.

“It’s for fun,” said Team France coach Colin Fong. “Most teams enjoy themselves. It is competitive but winning isn’t everything.”

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