ALSO ON SLAM!
Saturday, July 8, 2000
Outriders set to roll
Team's off to Europe
How's this for stress: Being a 16-year-old athlete travelling to Europe to represent your country at two of the biggest minor soccer tournaments in the world.
Welcome to the world of the Calgary Outriders, a group of ultra-talented local female soccer players who will leave this week to compete in the Gothia Cup in Sweden and the Dana Cup in Denmark.
There will be more than 1300 teams at the Gothia Cup -- 80 alone in the Outriders' division -- and an estimated 800 teams at the Dana Cup.
That roughly equals 37,000 total athletes between the two.
Of course, on top of the soccer, they'll have to deal with a different language and a different culture. Luckily for the Outriders, travelling overseas is old hat for their coach.
"Let's put it this way," said Howard McGiffin, who took his daughter's Blizzards club team to the Gothia Cup in 1988. "I know my way around."
But that was then, and this is now, he admits.
It's a different group of girls he's coaching this time -- all-stars at that.
Nineteen girls were selected to the Outriders roster from 80 who tried out for the team back in May of '99. They come from all over the city and collectively represent five different club squads.
As far as McGiffin knows, the Outriders will be one of only four Canadian teams taking part in the Gothia Cup, leaving them to shoulder a bit of national pride.
"Our goal is to win both tournaments obviously," said McGiffin. "But it'll be real tough, there's no doubt about that.
"We have no idea exactly how good the teams will be, but we know they'll be good, that's for sure."
Like any tournament, you never know what to expect going in. The sheer size of these events multiples that considerably.
"Last time we played some really good teams, and some really bad teams," recalled McGiffin. "It's the luck of the draw, really.
"Until you play your first game, you can't really guess."
That first game will be an important one as always, but McGiffin said if they draw a strong opponent and lose, he has no doubt they can overcome it.
"The first game is very important obviously," he agreed. "But one loss wouldn't get them down. They're great girls."
McGiffin was also quick to point out there's more to the tournaments than just soccer anyways.
"We're concentrating on the education aspect right now," he said. "We've been giving them some tests."
As an added bonus, the Outriders will be one of the select teams that participates in the opening ceremonies for the Gothia Cup, instead of sitting in the stands as most of the squads do.
Team member Carley Phelan will also deliver the oath of the athletes.