Over-60 soccer team ready for Senior Games

They may have been born ready, but that was more than 60 years ago.

Either way, the members of the Kamloops (Zone 8) over-60 men's soccer team are well prepared for the B.C. Senior Games, which start Thursday in Richmond. The Kamloops side is one of seven teams taking part in an increasingly competitive 60-plus division.

Kamloops, whose roster includes 10 athletes who compete in the local recreational 45-plus league, figures to be right in the thick of things.

"We should be OK, but we really don't know," said Ray Hellmen, one of the team's players. "Some of the teams from Vancouver have former Whitecaps and players like that, but we have some good players too."

Kamloops finished third in the 55-plus division at the 2008 B.C. Senior Games in Prince George. With a lot of those players eligible to play in the 60-plus division, Kamloops decided to move up an age class.

"There were only three (60-plus teams) in Prince George," Hellmen said. "This year, there are seven."

Kamloops will play twice Thursday, twice Friday and once more on Saturday, if it makes the final or bronze-medal game.

The Kamloops players took part in two exhibition games together to get prepared, including a contest on Sept. 6 against a 45-plus men's team, and another on Monday against a combination of two women's teams.

While the game remains the same - soccer is soccer, right? - the strategy has changed over the years.

Kamloops is looking to keep things pretty simple when it takes the field Thursday.

"We have pretty good camaraderie here, so we want to make a lot of short passes," Hellmen said. "I don't think we'll be playing a lot of long balls and running into them - we'll be doing short passes and looking to make our way up the field."

On Monday, the Zone 8 men were sporting brand new red jerseys they bought with money from a grant courtesy of the Blazers Sports Legacy Fund.

"The people there were kind enough to grant us enough money to make us look spiffy," Hellmen said.

Those jerseys - and their matching socks - will likely get dirty in Richmond, where the games promise to be competitive, despite a rule that forbids slide-tackling.

Regardless of the competitiveness of the games, the off-field stuff remains the same.

"We go there to have fun, we go there to play soccer, and we go there to drink beer," Hellmen said. "That's the truth."

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca

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