By Bruce Fuhr,
The Nelson Daily Sports
Those in the know about the local soccer scene knew at a young age Nelson’s Mitch Popadynetz had the potential of turning into something special.
The ball skills of this Nelson Youth Soccer product were ahead of the rest of the pack, the way he fed his teammates and the way he, well, just made everyone around him play a lot better.
Now North American roundball experts are standing up to take notice of was Nelsonites knew for a very long time.
Popadynetz, 15, has been selected to 2010-11 Super Y-League ODP National Camp.
Popadynetz, who played last season in midfield for the Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club, was selected to the 1994/95 Super Y-League ODP National Camp.
“I’m pretty excited on getting selected to the camp,” Popadynetz told The Nelson Daily from his Heritage City home. “I really didn’t know too much about (ODP National Camp) until I talked to some kids who had gone before. They all tell me it’s a pretty big deal.”
Popadynetz, nominated in the 1994-1995 division has been identified as one of the top players in his respective birth year in the Super Y-League.
This camp, slated February 2011 in Florida, gives the elite group of players the opportunity to display their soccer talent and work ethic to collegiate and national team scouts.
“It’s a compliment to Mitch to be chosen from the highest youth level league in North America,” said Dave Spendlove, provincial coach and owner/operator of Soccer Quest in Nelson.
“The Y League has league playing from across all of North America including Canada and only the top one to two percent of players in this league are chosen for this event.”
Popadynetz played in Nelson Youth Soccer since he was a youngster, leading the U13 Selects squad to a silver medal in 2008. The Selects came within a penalty shot of capturing the B.C. Soccer Provincial B Cup.
In 2009 as the Heritage City hosted the provincial tournament at the Lakeside Pitch, Popadynetz & Company was one of the early favourites to repeat as medalists. But after a promising start, U14 Selects lost its final two games to finish fourth.
This season Popadynetz decided to take his show on the road to the Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club to play on the U14 squad.
The 5’7”, 130-pound midfielder, tied for third on team scoring with six goals and five assists, helped Metro-Ford capture the Lower Mainland title with an 11-0-1 record.
The title qualified Coquitlam for the North American United Soccer League championships in Tampa Bay, Florida, November 21-27. Metro-Ford finished with a 2-2 record, just missing the playoff round on goal differential.
Popadynetz is now back in Nelson for the winter, perfecting his skills playing in the Soccer Quest Men's Open Indoor League. In March the Grade 10 student at L.V. Rogers High School remains optimistic to return to Coquitlam for another season.
As for another trip to Florida, Popadynetz is unsure.
“I’m not really sure if I’m going to go back to Florida having just been there but I have to sit down (with my parents) and talk about it,” explained Popadynetz, able to play with his friends from Nelson at the 2010 B.C. Provincial B Cup in the Fraser Valley in July. “Hopefully I’ll be able to go.”
For Spendlove this is an opportunity that doesn't come along all too often, so rising Nelson star should do everything in his power to make the trek to Florida.
“Scouts from the Canadian Soccer Association, America Soccer Association and top college scouts are all in attendance,” Spendlove said. “For a kid from Nelson it’s a real honor and a compliment to those who have trained and coached him over the past four years.”
“(Being one of his coaches) Mitch has a great first touch, works hard and is a pleasure to coach,” Spendlove added.
Which are key ingredients that make it a lot easier for this special player to succeed.