With the 2022 FIFA World Cup scheduled to begin in November in Qatar, millions of boys and girls around the world dream of being on the biggest stage in soccer. Many of them have to start at the youth level.
Boreal Futbol Club, also known as Boreal FC, is a merger of two local youth soccer programs: the Three Rivers Soccer Association and North Metro Soccer Association.
Boreal’s goal is to create a fun environment for players to learn the technical and tactical elements of soccer while promoting sportsmanship.
Jake Cowie, an assistant coach with the Elk River girls varsity soccer team, is one of eight technical directors or coaches who works for Boreal FC. Cowie moved back to the north metro within the last 18 months after living in Florida. A friend of his from college who worked for Boreal suggested that he meet Ben Goettsche, Boreal’s executive director, and had a training session with one of the teams.
“I came along and had a couple of sessions with a couple of teams to see what I was like as a coach,” Cowie said. “Ever since then, [I’ve] been working for them.”
This summer, Boreal FC will organize tryouts for players between the ages of 8 and 17. Players born between 2005 and 2014 are eligible to participate.
Tryouts begin on Friday, July 29 for the U9-U10 teams. Both boys and girls will compete in tryouts on the same day. On Saturday, July 30, tryouts will take place for the U9-U12 teams. The U11-U17 teams will have tryouts on Sunday, July 31. Players between U13 and U18 will try out on Monday, Aug. 1 and tryouts will conclude on Tuesday, Aug. 2, with the U15-U18 players. All tryouts will take place at the Oak Knoll Athletic Complex in Elk River. The registration fee is $50 for players ages 9-12 and $60 for players between U13-U18.
Rogers High School alumnus Brady Johnson is Boreal’s technical director. During his time at Rogers, he played for the boys varsity soccer team and joined Boreal in 2016. He also played on the Bethany Lutheran College mens soccer team in Mankato.
Johnson said players at the U17 level who are high school juniors and seniors train 4-5 times per week. Even players on the second and third teams that are very competitive in the state train 3-4 times per week.
“They’re going from November to July,” Johnson said. “[It’s] a long season and they’re going a lot of times during the week.”
The goals of Boreal’s U17 teams is for it to be a pathway where players achieve their goals.
“Common goals amongst those age groups include being able to play at the highest level in the state of Minnesota,” Johnson said. “We provide access to that through our different leagues that we’re affiliated with. A lot of our players aspire to play [in] college.”
One of the players that is in the Boreal FC program is incoming Elk River senior midfielder Jess Emerson. Emerson has committed to play for Bemidji State University upon graduating from ERHS next year. She may play along with 2021 Rogers High School alumnus Edie Frantzen, who is a sophomore goalkeeper.
“Players like Jessica, who’s a special player who’s been recognized early on since U11 that she’s got this unbelievable talent; we want to provide pathways for players like that who want to stay in our club and grow and nurture them so they have access to the higher levels,” Johnson said.
Zimmerman High School boys soccer coach Devin Chuba is Boreal’s youth director. He’s been involved with the club for several years. Chuba’s responsibilities include supervising the U9-U12 age group and organize camps and training sessions throughout the year. Chuba said working with younger kids and players 16-18 at Zimmerman is a good balance.
“It gives me all kinds of different experiences in my coaching,” Chuba said. “It helps me get involved with the community. Boreal has fans all over the place. Getting into Zimmerman and getting connected through there has been helpful as well.”
Cowie coaches Boreal’s U16 girls team. Currently, the team is undefeated in its last 14 matches.
Cowie said his experience with being an assistant coach with the Elk River Elks girls soccer team last fall has helped him coach the Boreal girls team.
“It’s so fun,” he said. “Every day is different. They keep you on your toes, but they’re all dedicated to learning. It’s a privilege watching them improve as athletes and players through the year.”