Oscar Brown has played soccer for Upper Canada College since fourth grade and now, as he enters Foundation Year, he’ll have some stories to tell his U16 teammates about what he did on the field this summer.
Brown was spotted by a University of Tennessee coach at a showcase event in Mississauga, Ont., and he was so impressed with the 15-year-old that he invited him to join other players from Tennessee and Ontario on the First Choice Soccer team and take part in the SuperCupNI tournament that was held in July in Northern Ireland. The tournament is one of the most prestigious in the world and has spawned such renowned international players as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs.
“It was a bit of a different experience for me because there were a lot of cliques on the team and I didn’t know anybody,” says Brown, who found that he was able to quickly bond with his teammates since they spent so much time together over a week of training, sightseeing and living together in a dorm at Ulster University prior to the tournament.
“What I found with sports is that you can mix well if you’re all there for the same reason.”
Fifty-four teams from 16 countries and four continents took part in the July 24 opening ceremonies at The Showgrounds in Coleraine. They were divided into three age groups, with First Choice playing in the Junior (U15) division.
Brown’s team played an exhibition against a team from the American Olympic development program as a warm-up and defeated its opponents 7-0.
First Choice opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over Colina from Chile. It tied Ireland’s Cherry Orchard Football Club 1-1 the next day and went down 1-0 to Northern Ireland’s Co. Londonderry in its final qualifying match. First Choice lost its semi-final game in its playoff grouping by a score of 1-0 to England’s Southampton. The team won its final match 2-1 over England’s Plymouth Argyle.
“Our team coming into the tournament was a massive underdog and nobody expected us to win a game,” says Brown. “We performed very well and we won an award for being the most sportsmanlike team.”
Brown is a striker and scored a goal and picked up an assist during the tournament.
“Individually, I thought I played well and performed under pressure,” he says.
Brown’s coach was impressed with his team and the Mowbray’s House member is hopeful that he’ll be invited to play in the U17 version of the tournament next summer since he enjoyed himself and learned so much this year.
“I got to see what my soccer level is like throughout the world and I got to meet a lot of players from around where I live that have lots of skill and potential,” says Brown.
“There was a very different style of play. It was much more technical and possession-based as opposed to the American and Canadian way.”
Brown wants to play soccer in university but doesn’t know where yet. His more immediate goal is to move up to play for UCC’s varsity team. The experience he gained in Northern Ireland should help him achieve both of those things.