Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Marissa Tiel

FOCUSED – At age 12, Abby Rich is one of Whitehorse’s youngest female players to train at the Whitecaps soccer academy in Vancouver. Her goal is to one day play on the women’s national team.

Image title

Photo by Marissa Tiel

JUGGLING – Abby Rich dribbles the ball at Porter Creek Secondary School as her teammates warm up for practice. Rich practices about nine times a week in Whitehorse.

In it to win it

The rain breaks as the minivan pulls into the parking lot.

By Marissa Tiel on September 8, 2016

Local soccer player on track to play with national team

The rain breaks as the minivan pulls into the parking lot.

The side door slides open and a tall, lean girl steps out, sticking hot pink sock and athletic sandled feet onto the wet parking stall. Abby Rich, fresh off her first days at high school is decked out in soccer gear: tapered sweat pants, a Total Soccer Excellence athletic T-shirt, her blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail.

She’s nervous, more nervous than she is before a soccer game. She’s not used to speaking to media, but her voice is sure, though it carries the “like”-filled speech pattern of a soon-to-be teenage girl.

About an hour after school is out, Rich would normally be preparing for her first soccer practice of the night, but a foot injury is keeping her out of this TSE practice, which her dad is coaching at.

She’s resting her foot and may play at her second soccer event later tonight, a Strikers game against a boys team.

Between TSE, Strikers and Whitehorse Minor Soccer, Rich sometimes finds herself playing or practicing soccer up to nine times a week.

The 12-year-old doesn’t mind, soccer is in her blood.

“I love how I can just forget about everything and focus on soccer and just play the game,” she says.

She hopes to one day play on the women’s national team and next summer hopes to represent the Yukon at Canada Summer Games in Manitoba.

When Bart Choufour, the director and head coach of Vancouver Whitecaps academy centres and pre-residency first visited Whitehorse two years ago, Rich scored an invitation to practice with a girls program near Vancouver.

“It’s a great experience because I get to play with high-level players,” she says. “Whitecaps is one of the best . . . it’s helping me get more opportunities so I can move up.”

For the past two summers, Rich has attended a week-long camp with the program, which is overseen by Emma Humphries. The program in turn feeds into the Elite REX program, which is where Canada women’s national soccer team head coach John Herdman picks his talent.

This winter, Rich’s family will try to get her down to Vancouver about once a month, where she’s signed up for the academy program.

Rich has also gained some Outside competitive experience with a Crossfire girls team. They played a tournament in Alaska, during which she scored two points and logged two assists, helping her team to the final.

She has been invited to attend camps with the Crossfire FC across the southwestern U.S.

“There’s lots of opportunities up here,” says dad, Spencer Rich. “The challenge is the lack of competitive teams to play against, but the bonus is there are multiple opportunities and the multiple levels she can play.”

Rich comes from a soccer family and they’ll often play pick-up games in the yard.

“But I always win,” she says. “It’s nice because I get to talk about soccer with them.”

A centre midfielder, Rich says it’s her job to make plays for the team and to score a few goals herself.

“She hates to lose,” her dad says.

“I’m very competitive,” Rich agrees. “I guess that drives me.”

She prefers games to practices, “because I can just play.”

Rich has travelled a lot for soccer opportunities and was one of the players on the juvenile girls futsal team that competed at the Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland earlier this year. She scored two points in the tournament as her team finished fourth.

Rich often finds herself training and playing soccer with older players and the boys teams in Whitehorse.

As she gets photographed, some of the boys have started to warm up for practice and they tease her as she’s quick to smile and fire right back.

“It’s easy to play with her because you don’t have to worry about her being below our skills,” says U18 player Malorie Hanson, who’s juggling a ball a couple feet away. “It’s fun to play with her.”

Rich is also active in school sports, specifically volleyball and basketball.

But she says soccer is her main priority.

In October, Rich will travel with her Strikers team to the North Shore Girls Soccer Club Thanksgiving Tournament in Vancouver, where their team will attempt to defend its title – they’ve won the tournament for the past four years.

Comments (1)

Up 2 Down 0

Jane rich on Sep 8, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Well done Abby . We're all very proud of you here in Vancouver .

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