Ryan McQuillan and James Nielson, Highlanders Communications

June 19, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Highlanders youth development teams headed south to Skagit River Park this past weekend, competing once again in the 19th Annual Skagit Firecracker Tournament.

The three-day tournament, located In Burlington, Washington, took place on 24 grass fields and featured Highlanders teams ranging in age from U-11’s to U-18’s, each team was guaranteed at least three games in the tournament.

“There were nine teams. It was positive for the boys and for the girls,” said Director of Youth Development Neil Sedgwick. “The volunteerism was fantastic, with everything set up for the players from the hotels to the meals to the field. The parents were top-notch in helping out and made it very easy for the players to only be concerned with performing.”

The kids had an opportunity to put into practice what they have been taught at training in a fun, competitive atmosphere.

“It was a lot of fun. They all played extremely well,” said Sedgwick. “They stuck to trying to play good soccer. A number of the coaches we played against made comments about that, about our teams. There were age groups where we were outmatched physically because of the age groups, but the players continued to play.”

A large contingent of Highlanders coaching staff made it down to Skagit, including first-team players and youth coaches Wes Barrett and Blair Sturrock, who were joined by men’s Head Coach Steve Simonson.

“Steve Simonson was down as well as all of our coaching staff. Coaches were assigned to one team but each coach was on the sideline for multiple teams. It was very much a team effort by all of the coaching staff.”

The Highlanders youth program currently trains 250 youth who are looking to develop their skills and train year-round. Sedgwick hopes that opportunities for the children will continue to expand.

“We can never predict as far as numbers are concerned. We just continue to focus on the Highlanders’ way. We expect to expand on the tournaments we go to as well as the exchanges with teams from the U.S.; just the opportunities to play for the players.”