Noah Chappell and Kiera Dick, two promising young soccer players, got a boost last week from the Pasher family.
Elmira-native Tyler Pasher is an international soccer player who plays at the highest levels of soccer in North America and represented Canada multiple times, including on the men’s national team at the FIFA Concacaf Cup in the United States. Currently he plays for the Birmingham Legion Football Club in the United Soccer League, the second highest league in the United States. He got his start with Woolwich Youth Minor Soccer.
Now, Tyler and his dad Geoff want to give back to the community and raise the profile of soccer in the area.
Geoff, himself a former Kitchener Rangers hockey player, remembers when he realized Tyler had the talent to go far in soccer.
“The thing was when Tyler was playing here, the coaches said to me, ‘you gotta get him out of here to higher levels.’ Woolwich Youth Soccer is great. It’s the base to get things, but the kids who want to go further, they have to go to the bigger cities.”
Looking to further Tyler’s skills, the family looked for opportunities overseas in England.
“He was in Newcastle United Academy since he was nine years old until 15. Six years he trained every year in Newcastle. So he learned what it was like to train with private training sessions and private coaching. And it really gave him the ability to excel, obviously. So we’re doing the same thing for kids today. Because they don’t get it (otherwise).”
Geoff Pasher said as Tyler was growing up, he asked businesses for personal sponsorship to be able to give Tyler the training he needed. Now, he wants to give youth in Woolwich who have the talent and the passion for soccer the tools they need to start them down the path to achieving in the sport with a training scholarship.
“(Soccer) is becoming a worldwide game, and Canada’s a part of it now,” he said.
The scholarship is for two youths, one girl and one boy who play for Woolwich Soccer. This year, the first winners Chappell and Dick play in the boys’ U13 and girls’ U14 Woolwich soccer rep. teams respectively.
The scholarship includes 16 private training sessions with David Edgar Football Coaching in Waterloo, and 16 private sessions at Nexus Gym in Elmira. The sessions can take place from February to May or March to June.
Kiera Dick plays in the girls’ under-14 rep team. She said she felt she had nothing to lose by applying for the scholarship. When she heard she won, “It was an honour, I was excited,” she said.
She plans to grow her skills as a midfielder.
Noah Chappell plays in the boys’ under-13 rep team. He heard about the scholarship from his coach. “I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to, I was a bit nervous, but eventually I felt I had to do it,” he said.
Chappell, who plans to focus on his defensive skills, urges other to pursue their opportunities.
“I think it’s important to know that even if you think you’re not good enough, that taking those chances, it’s worth it sometimes. And don’t give up on your dreams.”
Geoff Pasher says he plans to make the award annual.
“We want to give back to the community and support these future kids that want to maybe have the opportunity that Tyler got.”
Pasher says that promoting soccer in Canada is even more important because Canada is co-hosting the FIFA world cup in 2026.