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Spain trip inspires Powell River Youth Soccer player

Brayden Messner travels to tournament in Madrid as part of a Canadian team
GREAT EXPERIENCE: Brayden Messner [far right] was selected to participate in a soccer tournament in Madrid, Spain, after attending a Real Madrid-sponsored soccer camp in Victoria last year. Brayden played on a team called Canada Yellow, playing several matches against international teams, and scored a goal in one of the games.

After attending a Real Madrid-sponsored soccer camp in Victoria last year, 12-year-old qathet region soccer star Brayden Messner attended the main camp in Madrid, Spain, in March, practising important skills and playing in a tournament.

“We were in Spain for 10 days, and it was incredible,” said Brayden.

After flying to Spain, Brayden and his father Andrew were met by team officials and taken to a hotel where all team members were housed. The players on his team were made up of other players from Canada who had been selected from the soccer camps held across the country last year.

Brayden said players got down to business quickly and practiced for three days with a coach the team had been assigned.

“Our practice sessions were pretty hard and our coach Jorge was pushing us,” said Brayden. “It was really fun.”

Practice involved drills similar to keep-away, and the players also practiced set plays, such as corner kicks. During practice sessions, Brayden became familiar with his teammates.

“They were a bunch of very skilled, very nice soccer players,” said Brayden. “There were a few 11-year-olds and some 10-year-olds.” Brayden was 11 at the time of the tournament.

During his time in Spain, Brayden played the right-back position. Typically, in Canada, he plays centre-mid or centre-back, so the assignment was an adjustment. He said he had to think more defensively than in games he plays for the Powell River Villa youth soccer rep team.

Brayden made fast friends with new teammates and a special friend, Nick, who was “awesome.”

“We became best friends and we hung out as much as we could,” said Brayden. “We would go to the gym in the hotel and we would play together outside kicking the ball. We had a lot of fun.”

In addition to practicing and playing, Brayden and Andrew were able to see the sights and sounds of Madrid. A highlight was going to Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, an 81,000-seat facility, where they saw two soccer matches. One was with Real Madrid Legends versus another team of retired players, and the second was an international game featuring Spain and Brazil.

“That was awesome,” said Brayden. “There were so many great players playing in the game. It was a heated match. It was tied 3-3, so there were lots of goals. Spain went up one-nil on a penalty and then scored another one. After half time, it looked like Brazil had a pep talk. They scored two goals. In the 92nd minute, Spain scored a penalty to make it 3-2 and then in the 96th minute, Brazil scored to tie it.”

Tournament time

When it came to tournament time for Brayden, he was on a team called Canada Yellow. There were five Canadian teams in his group. In the first group game, Brayden’s team went up against a team made up of players from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with the Europeans winning 4-2.

“We had a few mistakes that cost us the game,” said Brayden.

Canada Yellow played an American team and won 2-0. Next was another Canadian team and Brayden scored the first goal in a 3-1 win.

Another American team provided the next opposition.

“They were big and rough,” said Brayden. “I had a big, big road rash on my elbow. We beat them 5-0. That was a big game.”

Next up was a team from Brazil and Brayden thought they would be really good, but his team beat them 6-1. His friend Nick scored a hat trick.

Brayden said his team was beaten in its next game, which prevented them from advancing any further in the tournament.

The last game was against another American team, which was the roughest by far, according to Brayden. In that game, he was fouled just outside the box, so he was awarded a free kick. Brayden handed the ball to a teammate who is originally from Ukraine.

“He’s a brilliant player – tall, strong and fast,” said Brayden. “He put the ball perfectly in the right-hand corner and the goaltender had no chance. We went up 1-0.”

Because there were so many games to be played in the tournament, with two each day, they were half an hour in duration, with 15-minute halves. Weather was varied, starting off in the mid-20s, but as the tournament advanced, it started to rain.

Brayden said he is more passionate about soccer since his trip to Spain. Having seen soccer played at the world stage level, he’s even more motivated to play at the highest levels. He would love to wear a national team jersey someday.

In terms of soccer locally, his rep season has wrapped up. Brayden scored 17 goals in 19 games and registered 29 assists He said his team is skilled and knows how to work together.

“We’re pretty good,” said Brayden.

He has also been picked up for a tournament in Kelowna by Nanaimo Surf, so he’s looking forward to travelling on the May long weekend. Over the summer, he’s going to work on sharpening his skills and he’s hoping to start at the gym for strengthening in the coming season.

“I’m hoping to make some big improvements,” he added.

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