CISM soccer team reboots in Victoria

CISM Soccer

Members of the CISM soccer team assemble for a training camp photo at the Gorge Soccer Association, March 30. Photo: Peter Mallett/Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer — Following a host of delays, cancellations, and shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Conseil International de Sport Militaire (CISM) World Military Games soccer team finally returned to the field with a training camp in Victoria.

Twenty-six military soccer players and nine coaching and support staff from military bases across Canada were reunited for the first time in over three years at their camp at CFB Esquimalt, March 27 to 31.

Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Marcelo Plada, Head Coach, says the training camp marked a turning point for his team and its development since there is no substitute for in-person training sessions and games.

“We have been introducing our players to the main pillars of our program where we emphasize mental performance, strength and conditioning, and everything has gone extremely well,” he said. “What we are giving back to the players is an idea of where they stand in terms of rankings and their chances of making this team.”

LCol Plada says he could meet with his players only virtually and set strength and conditioning goals online.

The training camp also served as a selection camp for upcoming competitions

The team is preparing to compete on the world stage at the CISM World Military Games and World Football Trophy. Both competitions could be held as early as next year, but scheduling details surrounding both competitions have yet to be finalized.

LCol Plada, a Weapons System Manager and a nationally-accredited A-License Coach, says he is well aware of the challenge his players will face on the field against more experienced opposition.

“Many of the teams we will face have compulsory military service, meaning our players will compete against professional or elite-level experience.,” he said.

To help prepare better, LCol Plada and his coaching staff focused on developing mobility and mental performance, and conducted strength and conditioning tests. The team held daily training sessions at the Gorge Soccer Association, Vancouver Island Training Centre and Pacific Institute for Sport Education. The coaching staff and players also took time out from training for a bit of fun, going for chilly early spring swims in Thetis Lake and off the docks of the Fleet Diving Unit in Colwood.

Local Talent

Three local players hope to make the squad: Sailor Third Class (S3) Owen Sewell and S3 Andrew Ouellet, members of Naval Fleet School (Pacific) (NFS(P)), and S3 Mark Cottrell of HMCS Regina. Lt(N) Demetris Mousouliotis of Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific), a former CISM Games player, has also joined the team as an assistant coach.

S3 Sewell plays fullback and is studying to become a Marine Technician at NFS(P). He previously played elite soccer in the Ontario Soccer League with Wexford and says participating in the camp was a terrific experience.

“We have a talented group of players who are used to performing at a high level of competition and everyone seems to work well together as a team,” S3 Sewell.

His teammate S3 Ouellet, a Weapons Engineering Tech, previously played elite-level soccer in Quebec City. S3 Ouellet, who usually plays right fullback or centre midfield, is equally optimistic about competing for a spot on the team.

“Being involved in the CISM soccer program is quite a challenge and makes me work harder on my fitness; I have really been giving this my 100 per cent,” he said. “That transfers over to my job too as mental health and physical fitness are very important in the workplace.”

Major Heath Robson, the Team Manager, says the team will continue its preparations later this year with a possible training camp and exhibition matches in Ireland and Great Britain in December.

CISM Soccer

A member of the CISM soccer team participates in a reaction-time drill during training camp.

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