Soccer and hockey skills send George sisters to Europe

Giselle (left) and Jill George’s love of sports has scored them the opportunity to visit Europe.

By Rhonda Cooper

The summer of 2011 will be one sisters Giselle and Jill George will remember for a very long time. The girls are making their first trip to Europe to play soccer and hockey.

Younger sister Jill (18) is a member of the Native Sons soccer team who board an airplane Friday, July 15 for Sweden.

“We have a tournament in Gothia (Gothenburg), Sweden and then we will take a train to Liverpool, England,” said Jill.

A soccer player since Kindergarten, Jill learned about the team by accident.

“I was playing in a high school soccer game and some guy from North Battleford approached me about trying out. I didn’t know anything about it before then,” she said.

Jill, along with approximately 20 other girls, attended the tryout and one week afterwards she was informed she was a team member.

“I think most of the girls who tried made it,” she added. Coach Corey Bugler from the Beardy’s reserve near Duck Lake took The Native Sons to Europe last year and is making the return trip this year. The 2011 squad is made up of First Nations under 18 boys and girls from across Saskatchewan.

On the field the Native Sons utilize a three-four-three formation.

“There are three forwards, four midfield and three defence. I usually play midfield. You have to be a strong runner because you are running from one end to the other,” Jill explained.

She admits to being a bit scared of the eight and one-half hour plane ride but is really excited to see a different part of the world. The Native Sons’ first tournament is the World Youth Cup in Sweden from July 15 to 23. There will be 1,600 teams from 60 nations for this event. Then it’s onto England for the Liverpool-Knowsley Cup in Liverpool from July 24 to August 1. A smaller event, this tournament will host nearly 800 teams from 50 nations.

Hockey and sight seeing

Jill is not sure whether she will return to Canada or remain in Europe joining up with older sister Giselle (20) and the women’s hockey team who are flying out of Saskatoon August 5 and landing in Prague in the Czech Republic for 10 days of hockey and sight seeing.

“I was a late starter when it came to playing hockey,” grinned Giselle. While  Jill started playing in Grade 3, Giselle was active in a number of other sports and didn’t lace up the hockey skates until Grade 7. The girls at one time played forward together but then the number of defensive players dwindled and Giselle made the switch to that position. Both sisters were members of the Aboriginal Team Saskatchewan – Giselle for two years and Jill for four. Last year, Giselle was the team’s trainer.
Jill heard about the opportunity to play in Prague last spring.

“I told mom about it and she said I could go if I wanted,” she recalled.

“I was always planning to go since each of the players need a chaperone,” said Giselle. But as the need for players grew, Giselle inquired about going as a player/chaperone. “At the end of April, I decided I would play.” She timed her decision well as she was able to make the team’s one and only one practice held in Saskatoon at the end of May.

“I am looking forward to the trip. It will be a new experience. I would like to see a lot of places in the world and this is a good chance to do it and to play hockey of course,” said Giselle.

The girls return home Aug. 15, giving them enough time to get ready for their return to school in the fall. Giselle is entering her third year of Education at the First Nations University in Regina and Jill will be a first-year kinesiology student at the University of Regina.

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