Mark Wu has long been involved with coaching youth soccer in Stoney Creek and the Hamilton area.
From Aug. 3 to Aug. 8, the Stoney Creek Soccer Club girls soccer team development coach will lead Team Hamilton’s girls under-15 soccer team as it takes on the strongest teams from around the world at the 45th International Children’s Games in Lanarkshire, Scotland.
“It is always a great honour to be selected and to coach in an international tournament,” he said.
“Our goal is to have fun and bring home the gold medal; we have a great shot with this team. In Scotland, they are calling it the youth world cup tournament; it’s going to be a big deal.”
Wu started his soccer career playing with various teams in Sao Paulo, Brazil and is a fully-certified multi-level NCCP coach.
He has hit the field as a coach with the Stoney Creek Soccer Club, Saltfleet Go Ahead Soccer Club, Hamilton Sparta Soccer Club and Mount Hamilton Youth Soccer Club.
Wu said it was a difficult task to select Team Hamilton’s players.
Hamilton is a hub for producing some high-level soccer players, he added.
“The girls that were selected to the team were the best of the best from the area,” said Wu.
“They all have great attitudes, excellent skill sets and experience at the highest level. My ultimate goal is to have them work as a team and follow a same concept formation, with a focus on ball control and set plays.”
The squad, which includes Stoney Creek residents Haley Kostyshyn and Nicole Lolua along with Saltfleet Go Ahead Soccer Club members Alessandra Maiolo, Alisha Tiffany and Alysha and Cierra Torosantucci, will take on teams from England, Holland and Russia – to name a few – at the games.
“The players will have an opportunity to learn about new cultures, meet players from around the world and compete at an international level,” said Wu. “There will be amazing opening and closing ceremonies and it will all take place in an Olympics-like atmosphere. It will truly be an opportunity of a lifetime for everyone.”
Wu said to be successful, Team Hamilton will have to pull out all the stops, as the competition will be heavy.
“I believe with the team selected, playing as a unit will bring success,” he said.
“It’s all about team work.” Kostyshyn agrees.
“We definitely have the attitude and skills to win,” she said, adding she feels honoured to be part of the elite squad. “I am looking forward to putting those skills to the test. The idea of meeting and competing against other players from around the world is exciting.”