Maureen Sharko, Terri Willoughby and Jen Van Every are about to add some international experience to their soccer résumés.
The three local women will be in Turin, Italy this weekend for the start of the 2013 World Masters Games.
Sharko (Kelowna), Willoughby (West Kelowna) and Van Every (Peachland) are all members of the Kamloops women’s soccer team which will compete in the 35-and-over age division beginning on Saturday.
“To be able to compete against teams from around the world will be an exciting opportunity,” said Sharko, a medical doctor in Kelowna. “None of us have had an opportunity like this, we’re usually sending our kids off to tournaments, so this will be really great for all three of us.”
Willoughby is a goalkeeper, Van Every plays defense, while Sharko is a midfielder.
The idea to field a team in Kelowna was originally conceived by Sharko and Van Every about a year and a half ago, but a group from Kamloops later stepped in to help ensure a squad from the B.C. Interior would be able to attend the 2013 games.
“We ended up having some injuries (in Kelowna) and didn’t really have enough players, so that’s when we got together with the Kamloops group,” said Sharko. “They’re incredibly organized and have done a great job of putting this together.”
The Kamloops-Kelowna women warmed up for the games by playing in a couple of tournaments, and performed well enough to win a silver medal.
Although Sharko and her teammates aren’t sure how they’ll fare against teams from around the world, an Okanagan-based team won bronze at the 2005 World Masters Games in Edmonton.
“Other teams from here have done well in the past, so we’re hoping we can as well,” Sharko said. “This team was put together with a purpose, players were chosen for each of the positions to be competitive, so hopefully we will be.”
The three local women will stay at a B and B while in Turin, just a 1/2 kilometre from where the World Masters Games are based.
The soccer competition runs from Aug. 2 to Aug. 10.
To follow Sharko, Willoughy, Van Every and the Kamloops women, visit the team’s
‘s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kamloopssoccer