Saskatoon teen on gold medal soccer team in Beijing tournament
- EFN Staff | August 22, 2018
Elias Poitras-Whitecalf is amongst a group of young soccer players from Saskatchewan and Alberta who brought home the gold championship this summer in this year’s Baidu Cup.
The 14-year-old soccer player from Saskatoon said it was the experience of a lifetime.
“It was really fun. It was nice to experience a different culture,” said Poitras-Whitecalf, who has been playing soccer for 10 years. “It was good and it was nice to win. When we were playing there, we met a lot of fun people there. It felt really good.”
The 35th Annual Baidu Cup, hosted by the Beijing Football Association, was held in Beijing, China this past July. Over 1000 teams competed in the international soccer tournament by joining local U11 & U15 Chinese Xiao Niu International Club teams.
Playing at that level heightened Poitras-Whitecalf’s desire to compete internationally again.
“I want to [compete at the Baidu Cup] again. It was fun,” he said.
He played for the Saskatoon United Soccer Club (SUSC) for six years now and plays centre-mid on his team. He looks up to professional soccer player, Kylian Mbappé, who plays forward for Paris Saint-Germain and the France national team.
Poitras-Whitecalf also looks up to his father, Ted Whitecalf, who motivates him in the sport.
“He always gets me to do soccer stuff,” he said. “He helps me get recognized by coaches…he helps me practice every few days.”
Poitras-Whitecalf and his teammates had to play in torrential rain to extreme heat and humidity in Beijing. But they didn’t let that slow down their performance. It excelled their game to bring home the title of first place champions. When they weren’t playing soccer, they were taking in the culture and experience to try new foods like scorpion skewers, steamed buns, dragon fruit and to explore historical sites such as the Great Wall of China.
Although this is the second year players from Saskatoon have competed at an international level, this was Poitras-Whitecalf’s first time – but an experience with everlasting memories. He said if others want to have that chance at playing soccer internationally, self-determination and practice is key.
“Try your hardest at every game, you never know when someone might be there,” he said. “Practice hard too.”
The U15 XiaoNiu Maverick International Boys team led by head coach Lewis Oteruelo, Assistant Coaches Jeff Jia & Melissa Malin went undefeated in 9 games to win Gold.