Residents living around Lions Park in Elmira may have started to hear a familiar thumping sound coming from south end of the field at night.
The rhythmic noise is a soccer ball hitting the outside wall of the public washrooms off the foot of Tyler Pasher.
Every other night, Pasher heads to the park and begins his ritual.
“It’s all about ball control,” said Pasher. “It’s just like when a baseball player goes to the batting cages and hits baseballs all day, eventually you will get so good at it that you will hit your mark every time, that’s the key.”
The 17-year-old knows a lot about his sport, playing since he was six. The hard work has paid off, as Pasher was just named to a 21-man Canadian roster that will go to Mexico for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
To say that Pasher is excited about the trip south would be an understatement.
“It feels great, I love playing for the team. We have great coaches and I can’t wait to get down there. It’s going to be great to represent Canada, I love this country.”
Currently Pasher trains three times a week as a defender with the Toronto FC Senior Academy.
Over the years he has enjoyed stints playing and training with Newcastle in England as well.
“I miss playing in England, it was like home. The caliber of players is different there than here, the training is different,” he noted. “They are a great class of players and I know I can hold my own and always do the best that I can against them.”
Pasher has great respect for his current squad in Toronto and hopes to be one day named to play for Toronto FC first team.
“They are a great organization, a class act,” said Pasher. “They help me have the mental aspect and drive to keep going.”
The young player said he owes a lot to his coach Eddie Edgar from Kitchener for helping him manage the mental and physical parts of the game.
“Sometimes you have your ups and downs but you just fight through it,” said Pasher. “[Edgar] has helped me develop my skills and become what I am today.”
Pasher also acknowledges his parents as a reason for his success.
“They have really helped me out and supported me a lot. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to get back and forth between Elmira and Toronto. When I had to get up early, they had to get up early. They put in the same amount of time and effort that I had to, and I am very grateful.”
The Canadian U17 team’s opponents for the opening stage of the tournament are Uruguay, England and Rwanda.
“He is very excited to be playing against England,” said Jeff Pasher, Tyler’s dad. “Ever since he has trained there he has had great respect for those players.”
The FIFA U-17 World Cup features 24 teams, with 16 teams advancing to the next round.
The top two teams from each group automatically qualify along with four of six third-place teams.
This is the fifth time Canada has participated in the event. Canada qualified back in February before it finished second at the 2011 CONCACAF Men’s under-17 championship.