So many story lines… so little space to do them all justice.
Last Wednesday, the finest soccer players in the upper Fraser Valley and the lower Fraser canyon gathered on sort of neutral turf, giving Camp Squeah its most prestigious sporting event of all time: the World Cup (of Hope and Yale).
Yale had been unable to field a team in July, while the other World Cup was taking place — but the ever-ready Hope squad decided to offer a later date, rather than take a win by default.
Normally, cities place their bids years in advance for World Cup hosting rights. Squeah’s executive director, Rob Tiessen gave the go-ahead on July 31, promising mini-soccer goals, green grass on a field big enough for 7-a-side — and a variety of balls, including air. The budget would also provide a few cones to mark the edges of the field.
To be safe, Hope Secondary soccer coach Jeremy Smith brought a bag of balls, corner flags and a stack of cones to add to Squeah’s nine.
There were all sorts of unique features at the venue. Security was provided by a big black lab, which ran onto the field in the early stages of the game to harass Hope players until someone secured him.
At the Yale end of the field, one corner rose almost two metres from level, making for interesting action on corner kicks. Hope won the pre-game toss but chose the other end, as their keeper had already installed his lawn chair in the far net and would rather not move. More on that later.
Yale also had A.C.T. working at their end, giving their squad a decided advantage on a hot evening. Camp program director Tim Larson had his sons Maerk, Haakon and Fletcher providing Aquatic Cooling Technology via their squirt guns for the Yale team and fans.
Dad didn’t need to tell them to have fun with it; they had the time of their lives.
On to the game. Goal keeper, Don Wiens had been awarded the MVP by Yale in 2010, for his efforts in securing their win in the first World Cup (of Hope-Yale). Trouble was: he was Hope’s goalie.
Wiens served as ref in the 2014 match (notably won by Hope, in his absence) — but he came to Squeah with a secret weapon: a sturdy lawn chair, which he placed in the middle of the goal. A goalie has to be ready when the action comes his way, so he must have figured the best way to be ready is to be well-rested.
The referree could have tossed the chair and Wiens for that matter but was counselled to “let the players play.” Wiens assumed his position and the game commenced.
And Yale scored.
Wiens advised his team to stop Yale from getting any more shots on goal. They did for a while, putting the heat on Yale’s rookie keeper, John Ritter. James Roksa put two past Ritter and had another bounce off the post before Yale bounced back, fueled by some speedy and talented camp counsellors.
Wiens was inspired to rise out of his chair, making some special saves… and a few inglorious misses. Yale took a 3-2 lead into half time.
“We were actually quite surprised with how many of our summer staff ended up signing up to play and I acknowledge this gave us a distinct advantage,” said Tiessen. “Being able to stream out the line changes one after the other made the 30-plus degree game conditions almost bearable.
“I think three of our staff played metro soccer and a few others, including our two girls, have played on some pretty good provincial teams,” added Tiessen. Hope can only dream that Squeah will hire knitters and chess champions in 2022.
“Our hats off to the Hope team, who endured the heat with a lot less reserves,” said Tiessen. “They played well and kept the game interesting for the fans right to the end.”
Hope drew the game to three-a-piece early in the second frame but Josiah Tiessen — a Hope resident playing for Yale — tumbled with Wiens by the side of the net and the ball missed the chair on the way into the goal. At 4-3, the game felt over. At 5-3, it was definitely over.
Where will the Cup reside now? Colin Webber had taken it home to his dad Geordie’s house, when he and his brother Mark helped Hope win in 2014. This year, Colin pulled a fast one and switched teams, as he’s working in Yale this summer for Fraser River Raft Adventures.
There’s probably still a place for it in the Webber home in Silver Creek, close to where it was first created by neighbours Wiens and Shelley Empey.
Do the right thing, Colin. Bring the Cup home.