Written by Noel Grisdale, Black Diamond, AB, Canada
I was fortunate to attend Canada/U.S.A Physicians Soccer Summit in Long Beach, California last weekend Feb 8th -10th, 2019. Our American friends have been having a yearly training camp for their medical football team and this year Team Canada was invited to join them. It truly was a great event! Team USA celebrated their 10th year of existence while Team Canada is now into it's fourth year. Canada's team has seen a lot of growth with this year being the first for a Canadian Master's (O45) Team to play in the 7v7 Medical World Championship.
Canada also now has a coach! Matt Stinson, is a young fellow with a terrific soccer resume having played with Canada's U20 and U23 teams and had one cap with Canada's Men's team in 2013. He played with Toronto FC from 2011-2013 and more recently played with University of York Lions. He is now York's Men's team coach having injuries putting an early end to his playing career. This past weekend it gave him a chance to get to know Canada's players which will help him and the team when they suit up for the real thing in Mexico in early July!
There was time for training on Friday morning followed by two 60 min games between Canada and the U.S. Open (25yrs and over) teams in the afternoon. At the same time both countries Masters Teams played a 7v7 match.
Both teams used this weekend as an opportunity to evaluate their players and prepare for the coming World Medical Football Championships (WMFC). As a result, there were more players this past weekend than will be allowed to suit up come July. It afforded both coaches to mix their teams moving players into different positions and putting out a number of different lineups over the weekend. Both Canada and the U.S. are looking improved over past years with increased skill and youth injected into their rosters. The games, while exhibition, were very competitive and became heated on a number of occasions! The competitiveness was great to see! The first game ended in a 1-1 tie with Darrell Lewis scoring his first team Canada goal heading in off a corner kick.
The second game saw Dr Sean Gregg show his feet are as skilled as his surgical hands when he scored a beauty from distance just before half time to put Canada up 1-0. The U.S. seemed especially motivated in the second half and had the Canadians under assault. They managed to score two goals late to secure a 2-1 victory and by the way they celebrated you could tell they felt Canada was a worthy opponent!
The first ever Master's Team for Canada played well in a tactically different game (7v7) which they quickly learned. Their keeper, Horacio, stood tall with only a screamer of a shot off the post and in managing to beat him through the game. In the dying minutes down 1-0 Canada pressed forward with Kamal Daniel drawing a penalty shot when he was dragged down in the box. Enrique Filomeno stepped up to tie the game only to have the ref say he shot before his whistle?! The ref was icing our player! No problem, Enrique picked a different spot and didn't miss! 1-1 was the final.
A beer and a burger at the field after the game helped fuel some camaraderie amongst the Canadian team and between the two teams.
Saturday morning players spent four hours attending a Sport Medicine forum/conference where players from both teams presented on various sports medicine topics providing attendees with learning from the latest research and sports medicine literature.
Due to rains overnight the Long Beach State grass fields were too soft for play and the teams moved to the Stub Hub complex nearby. This is an incredible complex where there are a multitude of grass and artificial turf fields. It is also home to the stadium of the LA Galaxy professional soccer team from the MLS.
On one field the Open teams played 11 v 11 matches (two 60 min back to back). The first game was well played by both sides with the Canadian's having the overall control of play and more of the quality chances. Nevertheless, the game ended in a 0-0 draw. The next game was a more disjointed affair with less moments of fluid play. The U.S. team carried the play a bit more in this game. Both teams had opportunities to score but the U.S. keeper came up big and the Canadian's cross bar stepped up when it had to! It stayed 0-0 until fairly late in the second half when a Canadian midfielder uncharacteristically played a square ball to the opposition creating a quick give and go opportunity for the U.S. at the top of Canadian's box. They took advantage with a nice finish to go up 1-0 which was the final score.
Meanwhile, Canada's Masters team was winning it's first ever match 2-1 over the Americans on the backs of a couple of great goals from Dr Johnathan Taylor from Lethbridge and Dr David Clay from Kimberley, BC.
Saturday evening provided an opportunity for both teams to spend some time socializing and tempering any hard feelings from the pitch! It was also ideal for new players coming into their respective teams to get to know their teammates. This team and this event (WMFC) is a really unique and special experience that isn't lost on any of us. Professionally we make contacts and have new and supportive colleagues across Canada. We have a family of sorts with physicians at all stages of their careers able to provide valuable connections to each other moving forward.
Sunday was another early morning with two hours dedicated on the field to Coach Matt working with Team Canada; laying down some groundwork for Mexico in July. The Masters team meanwhile had another hard fought battle with the U.S. which resulted in a 2-2 draw.
Overall a very successful first ever Canada/U.S Physicians Soccer Summit!
Next stop...Playa de Carmen, Mexico June 29th-July 6th, 2019 for the WMFC 2019
Articles about the trip!