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Maritime soccer players learn from Canada’s best at weekend event

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ABOVE: Soccer players gathered in Fredericton to attend weekend camps lead by four of Canada’s most accomplished soccer stars. Global’s Adrienne South reports – Oct 22, 2017

Soccer players from across the Maritimes gathered in Fredericton over the weekend to attend soccer camps run by four of Canada’s most accomplished soccer stars, including Christine Sinclar, Diana Matheson, Karina LeBlanc and Rhian Wilkinson.

Participant Caroline Blakely took part Saturday and said it was a memorable experience, and came back Sunday to watch.

“It was super cool because you watch them play on TV your whole life,” Blakely said. “These girls have been playing on the Canada team since I [was] born, I think, so just getting to meet the people you’ve been watching for your whole life, it’s just kind of like a dream you never think is going to happen — but then it does.”

The iS4 program was created following the Canada Women’s team bronze-medal win at the 2012 London Olympics.

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More than 240 participants attended the two soccer camps, as well as community and business events being held over the weekend.

READ MORE: Fredericton hosts nation for Under-17 soccer tournament

The iS4 program’s first stop in Fredericton gave young athletes a chance to learn soccer and leadership skills from the elite female athletes who competed in three Olympic Games and five World Cups.

The women won two Olympic bronze medals, which they brought to the event, hoping to inspire young athletes on and off the field.

“Our goal was to get as many kids across the country to touch the medal, hoping that they dream big and start to want to be the next Olympians,” LeBlanc explained.

Ginny Phillips attended the Sunday camp and said she was inspired by seeing the medals in person.

“To me, it represents hard work and dedication. I’ll keep trying my best to get better every day and then maybe someday I’ll be holding a medal,” Phillips said.

UNB Varsity Women’s soccer coach Jon Crossland said the weekend event was blessed with great weather and attracted players from across the region.

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“We’ve had kids from Nova Scotia, all over New Brunswick,” he said. “I think the furthest from Nova Scotia was kids from the South Shore.

“We’ve got people here from Amherst, and we’ve had some P.E.I. people in town as well, so we’ve covered the Maritimes pretty well with this weekend,” Crossland said.

The camp was organized in partnership with the Fredericton District Soccer Association and iS4 and was one of the largest soccer events held in Fredericton to date.