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    CHRONO SPORTS

  • Friday, August 4, 2000

    Britner earning plenty of soccer experience

    By GORDIE SUTHERLAND -- Halifax Chronicle-Herald

     There aren't too many 15-year-old soccer players with two international caps to their credit, but Matt Britner of Dartmouth can make that claim.

     The budding soccer star cracked Canada's national under-16 team this past April and suited up for games in France.

     Now Britner is among 22 players attending a camp in Montreal as Canada prepares to send a squad to New York for a match against the U.S. under-16s on Aug. 12.

     "He has great athletic ability and he's very mature," said Stephen Hart, the technical director for Soccer Nova Scotia who is also an assistant coach with the Canadian under-16s.

     "He's very composed. He reads the game well and he's good in the air. Those qualities serve him well in the position he has been playing."

     Britner, a fullback, is already five-foot-11, at least partly explaining why he's so good in the air.

     He's comfortable playing anywhere on the back line and has a knack for anticipating the play.

     Britner, who doesn't turn 16 until April, is the youngest player with Nova Scotia's Canada Games team and said the experience of competing in the First Division has helped him with Team Canada.

     He has also benefited from Nova Scotia's high performance program, which focuses on skill development and includes indoor, winter training.

     "I came here in the Christmas of '96 and I (joined) Cole Harbour," said Britner, who is originally from Edmonton and spent almost a year in Martinsburg, West Virginia, before moving to Nova Scotia.

     "The following year, I was with high performance, which is the provincial training centre here, and I think I've improved vastly ever since I've been playing with provincial teams and been around Steve Hart and had his coaching."

     Achieving at a high level is nothing new for Britner, who was enrolled in a program for gifted students at Ellenvale Junior High and graduated from Grade 9 with a 94 average.

     He'll be attending Halifax Grammar School this September.

     "He has a real level head on his shoulders and he does well not matter what he does - school or sports," said Britner's mother. "He's quite mature for his age."

     In fact, he has already set some long-term goals for his soccer career.

     "Hopefully, (I'll) get a scholarship to university and maybe play pro somewhere," he said.



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