Sun, sand and soccer.
Eighteen soccer players from Kelowna, all in the over-60 age category, enjoyed a sample of all three recently on a trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
The Canadian men played a pair of friendlies against a local team in the same age bracket on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.
Kelowna’s oldtimers won the first game 2-o, then lost the second to an over-60 team—consisting of select players in the area—by a score of 6-3.
“The first game ceremonies were impressive, with the playing of the national anthems of both countries, and the local mayor welcoming the Canadians,” said Kelowna team manager John Ugyan.
“He joked that he was surprised that there were no ambulances at the field, based on the aged crews that would be playing in the hot weather.”
There was a small contingent of Canadian fans, mostly wives cheering noisily for the Canadians throughout both games. The Canadian and Mexican flags fluttered from the posts near the fields.
After the second game, the Canadian players gave the surprised and very pleased Mexicans their red and white Canada jerseys.
The two sides shared a meal and drinks after both games, during which the players became better acquainted. There were many small gifts exchanged as well.
“Overall the event was a total success in developing long term friendships between the two countries, and as a basis for similar events each future year,” added Ugyan. “And the local Chamber of Commerce is anxious to discuss a sister city status with Kelowna as well.”