The 2006 Girls Collingwood Canadian Soccer Team realized a three-year dream come true this past April when the soccer ball dropped in Agropoli, Italy. Planning and fundraising began in May 2019 but halted with many tears and disbelief due to the onset of COVID. However, a group of 17 committed and determined girls, led by Coach Holly Willamson-Hynes and Manager Julie Carter, continued the bond and persevered through the weathered storm of COVID and kept ‘girls in sport – soccer’ motivated to keep their dream alive. Team bonding events and zoom training played an essential role in keeping the players grounded, focused and driven during the hard times.

From start to finish, the trip was led by Issie Seminara of Wasaga Beach, who has facilitated the international experience for several local teams for over 20 years. The trip included visits to St. Peter’s Basilica at Vatican City, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the famous ruins of Pompeii, the Temples of Paestum, as well as the scenic towns along the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri.

In Agropoli, the Canadian soccer team and parents were warmly welcomed by locals and teams from across Italy, Slovakia, and Poland. A dynamic opening ceremony and a joint exhibition game with Poland were great networking cultural experiences with their peers, who became fast friends on Instagram, sharing photos and learning to communicate despite their language barriers. Despite not playing competitively since 2020, the girls started slowly at the beginning of the competition, which was challenging with some small losses. However, determined and realizing they lost to teams that only had a brief competitive pause during COVID, the team rallied and showed true perseverance and progressed over the four days, which was exhibited with fortitude in the final game with a tie 1-1 against Poland. 

This trip gave them an opportunity to grow in the sport and see and learn how soccer is played around the world and experience the culture and history of Italy that will leave them with a lifetime of memories. This year was even more poignant, with the team able to see their committed hard work come together and start to realize and believe in normality once again worldwide.

The trip was truly a success for the community with the tremendous support from sponsors and partners who worked alongside the team to facilitate practices, uniforms and funds to make the trip achievable. A special thanks to Play it Again Sports (The Uniform Factory), the Collingwood YMCA, Men with Knives Catering / The Larder, Parkway Yamaha, The Co-operators – WD Redick and Associates, Fawcett Funeral Homes, Collingwood Food Tours, Labyrinth Services Inc, Nature’s Tree Service, United Roofing and Exteriors, Tyrolean Village, Anytime Fitness and Active Life Conditioning. A special thank you goes out to Assistant Coaches Danielle Markic and Shaun Lewis, First Touch Soccer Coach Kathy Bourbonnais and Trainers Tara Hunt and Claire Fenton for their help.

SUBMITTED BY: JULIE CARTER | PHOTO CREDIT: JUSTIN HAWKSLEY (STUDIO 60)