Families travelled from all over to watch their kids kick it in Invermere this past weekend. The Clash of the Titans Soccer Tournament had its first home tournament in two years, taking place on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29 at Mount Nelson Athletic Park. The tournament hosted 44 soccer teams, their families, as well as many volunteers and supporters that made it a success this past weekend.
“I am so passionate about our community! We had so much support from local businesses it was amazing,” said soccer club Chair, Rhiannon Tutty. “There were Facebook posts supporting the Titans, and community sharing of our players' success. After the forced hiatus of the past two years, this successful gathering of our greater Soccer family was wonderful!”
With early morning start times of 8 a.m. both days, players laced their cleats and warmed up before playing their games on the pitch, while many parents set up lawn chairs on the side lines and got comfortable for the exciting day ahead. The tournament ran until 8 p.m. on Saturday and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Goalies traditionally wear a different colour jersey from the other Titan players in black and white. It was under the suggestion of Tutty for the goalies to wear orange. “I had the idea to take the opportunity to switch our colours to the orange shirt in support of the Every Child Matters movement,” said Tutty. “The board, of course, wholeheartedly approved. And I contacted local Indigenous community members to ensure that we were appropriate in our tribute. The event grew from there. I felt it was powerful to be able to send the gathering out as an invitation, and part of the schedule of the tournament. I scheduled it within the day to maximise the impact.”
On Sunday, after the first round of games, Chief Barbara Cote of Shuswap Band briefly spoke to the crowd at 9:15 a.m., sharing how nice it was to see everyone together and how much it meant to see the goalies wearing orange. The microphone was then handed to Shuswap residential school survivors Basil and Laverna Stevens who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Speaking the truth and from their hearts to all in attendance, the crowd sat quietly, hanging on every word.
“It does not matter whether they are Indigenous or non-Indigenous, or whether they are into sports, or are musicians, or artists, we must support our children,” shared Basil Stevens to the crowd. “All children matter.” Considering that the tournament was located on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc (Shuswap) and Ktunaxa People and the land chosen as home by the Métis Peoples of B.C. (which runs adjacent to the Columbia River), the speech made by Cote, Laverna and Basil Stevens meant a lot to tournament attendees.
After two years of restrictions, the soccer tournament was welcomed in the valley with parents excited to come and watch their children play. Tara Whittick, whose boys have played with the U12, U13, and U14 teams, was just one of the countless parents who attended over the weekend.
“Having the Clash of Titans tournament take place after not being able to host it for the past two years was incredibly exciting. As parents we all want what’s best for our children. My two boys’ passion is soccer. When Covid first became a part of our reality, our boys’ mental health suffered, says Whittick. “It was really apparent, as their mom, that organised sport plays a very important role in their lives. Seeing all the kids out on the pitch, giving it their all, and smiling all the while, I’m sure made every parent in attendance there happy. Not just because their kid is having fun out there, but because the ripple effect of positive mental health is felt throughout the entire family.”
Two days with 44 teams, both boys and girls of all ages played their hearts out. Some of the bigger highlights for our Titans were when the U14 boys took gold, while the U11 team (which typically would not participate in the tournament) joined the U12 division in taking the bronze home………..as well as the senior boys mixed team took bronze. When it came to the girls, the U17/18, U15, and U12 Titans girls all took silver, while the U13/14, and U16 took bronze. Despite what teams may have gone home with medals, the weekend was a win for all who attended this well-organised home-turf tournament for our local Titans.
“This event is very important to our community. The club takes pride in showcasing our beautiful valley for all the visiting teams. It certainly has an economic impact when 44 teams visit the valley, says Whittick. “The volunteer community that put together the tournament is to be commended. Organising a tournament like this requires the commitment and dedication of many volunteers, plus seeing all of the visitors come together for the tournament gave everyone such a great feeling.”
Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer