Friday, September 18, 2020

Surrey’s Own National Soccer Champions

By Harjan Padda, 27 Nov, 2018

    Surrey BC Tigers Hurricanes have won the 2018 Canada Soccer Toyota National Championships Challenge Trophy, awarded to the best premier soccer team in the country.


    The Surrey BC Tigers Hurricanes are national champions! They have won the 2018 Canada Soccer Toyota National Championships Challenge Trophy, awarded to the best premier soccer team in the country. The Hurricanes also won provincials by winning all four games necessary to win that title. This was the team’s first provincials win for BC Tigers which was followed by their first nationals win ever. The Hurricanes are the first team from British Columbia to win the Challenge Trophy since 2004.
    The history of the BC Tigers Hurricanes is very unique. The team was created back in 2003 and named the Punjab Hurricanes. In 2011, they merged with the Delta United Hurricanes. Now, they are known as the BC Tigers Hurricanes. One year after the merge, the Hurricanes lost in the Provincial Cup final and followed that year with an Imperial Cup win. The core of the team has been intact and many players point to this as a big reason for their success. BC Tigers team manager, Rob Jandric, reminisces about how “this team had a young core and struggled for a few years, but I always believed in them. These guys would do anything for each other on and off the pitch, we’re a family.”
    The team’s coach, Nick Soolsma, joined the Hurricanes in 2017 and has made a tremendous impact for the club. The Dutch forward has played professionally and internationally for over 15 years now and was anointed as the team’s coach last year as he continued to play for the team as well. Soolsma finished second in Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL) league, scoring in each of the past two seasons, and he carried this elite finishing ability to the provincials and the nationals. He scored a hat trick for the Hurricanes to win the provincials final and another four goals to win the national championship. Soolsma recalls how the team “started the season with nine straight wins. We were just clicking which led to believing we can win the league and that really sharpened our focus throughout the year.” The talented coach and player won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals at the nationals with eight tallies – the most goals scored by a player in this tournament in 18 years.  
    The game itself started out excellently for the Hurricanes as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the half. From there it was smooth sailing as the Hurricanes kept the pressure on to win by an astounding 7-3 margin with four goals by Soolsma, two by Ryan Dhillon and one by Pavi Dhillon. All the players made note of how their preparation was crucial to this success. Prior to the big game, the team watched and studied the games played by the Ontario team and in order to plan their attack. “Watching the games made a big difference. We saw how none of the other teams were pressuring Ontario, so our game plan was to attack early. We took an early lead, shocked them and never looked back,” adds Soolsma.
    Jason Gill has been Hurricanes’ captain for last three years. He commends on the team for “training twice as much, putting our heads down and getting to work. All the little things added up to help us get that national championship.” A major factor in the team’s success was their physio team. “The team’s fitness improved throughout the year, they were a lot fresher and this set the tone for their play,” says Indy Khaira, a member of the physio team. Another accomplishment for BC Tigers Hurricanes was winning the Fair Play Award at the national tournament, which was given to the team that displayed the best sportsmanship and professionalism on and off the field. BC Tigers Hurricanes team, comprising mostly on Indo-Canadian players, is a testament to the strength and will of this community, and they proved it on a national stage. 

    “Everyone was buying in and held each other accountable. Nothing could stop this team once we started rolling.” – Jason Gill, BC Tigers Hurricanes captain


    “The unity and cohesion of our team is what took us to nationals and led us to coming home with the trophy.” – Jesse Dhami


    “We waited our whole lives for this big moment for our Punjabi community, and we have our heads held high.” – David Chohan


    “Everyone contributed to this championship, we had a big squad that became a big family, and nothing could stop us.” - Nick Soolsma, BC Tigers Hurricanes coach


    “We surprised Canada. Nobody expected a South Asian team to do what we did, and we proved all doubters wrong.” – Arjan Grewal


    “It is truly incredible to see how this team has stuck together through all the hard times to come out on top as champions.” – Gary Badesha


    “We put in a lot of training and fitness time, and it definitely paid off as our heart and skill could not be matched.” – Ashif Ismail


    “We had the comeback, never say die spirit. If we were losing we would come back, and once we did, we never looked back.” – Pratap Sandhu


    “We worked mentally as one unit, our momentum and chemistry carried us to the top as we became champions, as a family.” – Kam Hundal


    “Our fighting spirit never wavered, and we were able to return home to our community with this truly special trophy.” – Joey Brar


    “From provincials to nationals, we knew that one bad game could end us, so we took each game seriously and won them.” – Pavi Dhillon


    “When you are at your breaking point, and you feel like giving up, remember to keep your head up, its all on you.” – Sarpreet Pahal


    Images: BC Tigers, Canada Soccer, Lee Kormish

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