Manitoba's Finest

Going to the BMO National Championships is a major honour for any soccer club. Coming back home knowing you finished as the best team from your province is even better.

That’s exactly what happened for FC Northwest’s U16 boys team as they brought back a silver earlier this month. It was Manitoba’s only medal from national competitions this year.

Jorge Carreiro is a coach with the club. He said they are happy with the result, but a bit disappointed they didn’t go one step further.

“We were happy with the silver medal but at the same time, we know we could have won the gold.”

“We didn’t go there just to say we’re happy to compete, we went there to get a gold and that’s the message I gave to the players,” he added.

The club went 15-1 during the league season, giving Carreiro a right to be bullish about his club’s performance. He said the trip to nationals was not a surprise and that they had gone to provincials expecting to win.

They did eventually take the crown, despite some spoiler style tactics from the opposition.

“Every game we played, the other team just sat back and played defensively so that made it hard to get goals but we ended up figuring out ways to beat these teams and it worked out well in the end,” said Carreiro.

Known as the Lions, Northwest went to Ontario for nationals reflecting the confidence of their coach. Carreiro said he told the Free Press that he would be disappointed with any less than a spot in the gold medal game.

The players held up their end of the bargain before falling to powerhouse Ajax, an Ontario club playing close to home, by three goals to one in the final.

Despite the tough loss, Carreiro said he was most proud of the way his team fought right to the end, even hitting the post in the final minutes of play. He said that while being the top club out of Manitoba was a massive honour, he would be happy with his kids either way.

“No matter what, I am always proud of the players. They’re a great group who never quit. They have a lot of passion for the game and they love the game.”

“Of course we’re proud to come home with the silver medal because not a lot of Manitoba teams do that so it is a great feeling,” he added.

A part of the Northwest culture his whole life, even playing for past incarnations of them when he was young, Carreiro will be leaving the club next week. He is moving to Toronto to be with his son Dylan, who is playing with Toronto FC and the national team for his age group.

Carreiro said he was leaving behind a province where the game was making great strides.

“There are some really, really good soccer people who are working with these kids at a young age and they can really do some special things.”

He said that at the end of the day, positive thinking is key.

“The big thing is that coaches have to make their players believe that they can compete against the bigger provinces. If they believe that and work hard, then good things can happen for Manitoba teams in the future.”

For now, Northwest can be happy with their title as Manitoba’s finest but with their rich history of winning, you can be sure that they won’t rest until they come home next year with a medal of a different colour.

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