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Parksville soccer player gets Olympic keepsake

Arm band signed by Christine Sinclaire is a treasure worth keeping forever
Bronni Kirk shows off the captains arm band signed by Christine Sinclair she caught after Canada’s big win 3-1 win over Mexico to qualify for the Olympics.

That an Island-based girls soccer team would make the trip over to Vancouver to cheer on team Canada in their quest for an Olympic berth isn’t exactly news, but the keepsake one local player came away with sure was.

The Upper Vancouver Island (UVI) U15 Metro Girls team made the trip over to Vancouver Jan. 27 for a double header at the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament at BC Place. There are four local girls on the high performance side — defender/midfielder Bronni Kirk, middy/forward Sophie Palmer, defender/midfielder Olivia Friesen and keeper Olivia Collins — and all four were in the stands with their teammates to see the US beat Costa Rica 3-nil, and then yelled themselves hoarse cheering on Canada as they punched their ticket to the Olympics with a big 3-1 win over Mexico.

“The atmosphere was incredible,” said Bronni’s dad, longtime local coach and referee Stuart Kirk, who helped drive the team over. “It was so loud it was unbelievable.”

That game broke the CONCACAF all-time attendance record for a Women’s Soccer game at close to 23,000 people.

“The atmosphere was phenomenal. It was extremely exciting,” said Stuart, then made the point “it was a bit nerve-wracking” when Mexico scored to cut it to 2-1 late in the second half, but it was all good when Canadian captain Christine Sinclair fed the net (for the second time that game) at the 76 minute mark to ice the win.

Those two goals lifts Sinclair, who hails from Burnaby, into a tie for third in the world amongst all-time leading women soccer players at the international level with 129 goals for Canada.

After the game the Canadian players signed autographs for about 45 minutes.

Stuart said they moved their team down closer to the front so their girls could get access to the players and get their jerseys and flags signed. Not long after that, the Canadian players started heading back to the dressing room, but not before Sinclair took off her captain’s arm band, signed it, and tossed it up into the stands, and Bronni came up with it.

The keepsake, signed by a Canadian icon in the sport, was a big scoop for a young woman chasing her own soccer dreams.

“It was great,” Bronni, 14, beamed this week, and confirmed the arm band is now the anchor piece of personal collection.

The plan is to get a photo of Sinclair from the game that shows her wearing the captain’s band, and put it, and said arm band, under glass.

As a longtime local soccer coach and referee Stuart agreed the two games “were a great opportunity just to see soccer at that international level and realize the goals that you can work towards.”