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White ready to take on the world
The national U12 soccer championships brought both heartbreak and opportunity for one Port Moody youngster.
Nikolas White was part of the 2013 Danone Nations Cup Western team that fell 3-2 to the eastern squad earlier this summer in Montreal, earning the right to represent Canada at the Danone Nations U12 World Cup.
“They got to pick one player from the Western Canada team. I got a call three days later [and was invited to join the Eastern Canada team],” said White. “It was awesome.”
The invitation will send White to London, England, where he will take the field next week in one of soccer’s most sacred shrines: London’s Wembley Stadium.
“That’s been my dream stadium to play in since I was five,” said White, who will turn 12 in October.
Canada has drawn the “group of death” for the Sept. 4-7 tournament, in a pool with defending champion South Korea, Brazil and Switzerland.
Soccer has filled most of White’s dreams since he first took to the sport at age three-and-a-half.
“He was a little intimidated at first because he was playing with bigger kids. But he always worked hard and put a lot of time and effort into it,” said his dad Chris White.
Soccer is a family affair for the Whites, with Chris and his wife Sandra both playing the game along with Nikolas’ brother Anthony.
“It’s just sort of a household passion and the kids really grasped it and just sort of ran with it,” said Chris.
That family passion took the Whites on a family vacation to Poland last year for the UEFA Euro 2012 where Nikolas had a chance to watch three of his favourite players: Luka Modric of Croatia/Real Madrid, Andre Pirlo of Italy/Juventus and Xavi of Barcelona/Spain.
Nikolas began playing with Port Moody Soccer and said one of his biggest thrills came last year when he got a call from the Whitecaps head staff to inform him he would be joining the U13 pre-residency group last year. A change to that program this year will have White playing in the Coquitlam Metro Ford High Performance League when he returns from England.
“I have been fortunate to have great coaches in the Port Moody Soccer Club, Pre-Residency Whitecaps and Coquitlam Metro-Ford. My training coach over the past four years has been Johnny Sulentic of Euro Pro Football Academy who has been a major part of my development,” said White, normally a centre-midfielder who will be playing centre-back at the Danone Nations Cup.
When asked about his interests outside of soccer, White seems puzzled at first, trying to picture a world away from the soccer pitch. But upon reflection, he does list swimming, biking and hanging out with friends and family as other ways he enjoys spending his time. But it’s soccer that consumes most waking moments for the 5’4”, 110-lb. White.
“I usually play six times a week. As soon as I get home from school it’s soccer, and when I’m done soccer there’s homework,” said White, who picked up a bronze medal at the 2012 B.C. Games.
White hopes to have other opportunities to play for Canada and would like to eventually play with a club team in the Premier League. And he has a bit of advice for other players wanting to follow in his footsteps.
“I’m training pretty much every day. I go to the field and do endurance a lot, speed work. It’s mostly what you do by yourself that will make you a better player.”