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Trio ready for Games
At four-foot-seven, Max Chirkoff is used to playing soccer against bigger opponents.
Small in stature but lightning quick, Chirkoff uses that speed to continually thwart and frustrate opposing attackers. It is one of the main reasons he and fellow Vernon United U12 players Liam Glennon and Kevin Morgan will represent the Okanagan in boys soccer this month at the B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo.
“I like the challenge of taking on the bigger players,” said Chirkoff, 12, who will enter Grade 7 at BX Elementary in the fall. “What helps is my speed. I’m short but I’m usually quicker than the bigger guys.”
A fan of Cristiano Ronald and Real Madrid, Chirkoff has been playing soccer since he was five because it’s fun.
“I thought I had a good chance to make the Summer Games team,” said Chirkoff who, like Glennon and Morgan, went to a pair of tryout camps. “I tried my best and I made it.”
Glennon, a midfielder, also idolizes Ronaldo and Real Madrid. The 12-year-old soon-to-be Grade 7 student at either Hillview or Beairsto said making the Summer Games squad “is amazing,” especially with two friends on the squad.
“I’m really excited about going to the Games,” said Glennon. “I think this team has a chance to be great and possibly win a medal.”
Asked what makes the team great, Glennon smiled and said, “we’re awesome.”
“We’re also skilled,” he said. Glennon, a right-footed shot, made the team, he figures, because of his ability to move the ball well.
While Glennon moves the ball, and Chirkoff looks after attackers, it’s Morgan’s duty to keep the ball out of the net.
The 12-year-old, who will attend Grade 7 classes at Hillview, is one of two keepers named to the squad.
“I like facing breakaways,” smiled Morgan, who answered, ‘well, yeh,’ when a reporter asked if it’s a bad thing for a soccer goalie to be facing breakaways. “I also like distributing the ball to the players.”
Morgan started playing soccer at age six and became a full-time keeper two years ago, though he said he has no idea why he wanted to stand between the posts.
Morgan, who styles his game after his favourite keeper, Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, also likes his team’s chances of reaching the podium.
“We’re a strong team,” he said. “We have good goalies and we have good finishing.”
The U12 age group in Vernon, the 2002 boys, is very strong, according to Morgan’s dad, Paul Morgan, a longtime player-coach in Vernon.
Paul helps run one of the two U12 rep teams in Vernon, and figures five or six of the 26 boys in Vernon could have been selected for the Summer Games squad.
Asked about the players going to Nanaimo, Paul said of Glennon: “He is a treat to watch. He dominates the midfield and is an offensive threat every time he is on the field.”
Of the “tenacious” Chirkoff: “Max is strong on his tackles, quick to the ball, never gives an inch to his mark, and is very fast. His teammates love having him back there as they know he will out-hustle and out-work his opponent.”
And of Morgan: “Kevin is a big imposing goalie, comes out aggressively to challenges shooters and takes away angles, and most importantly has very strong player skills so his distribution and passing is excellent.”
The common thread, said Paul, is all three are passionate about soccer, have very high work ethics, hate to lose, are all leaders on the field, and they are all coachable.
“As coaches, we are so proud to have our program represented by these three, they really do deserve their selection to this regional team,” said Paul.