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Bradford boy’s team places 3rd in international soccer competition

The Grade 5 student at St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic School scored four goals.

When Luca Venditti stepped out on the soccer field, he could hardly believe where he was standing.

The 10-year-old Bradford West Gwillimbury boy was on the a professional soccer field in Turin, Italy, as one of a handful of players selected to represent Canada at the inaugural under-11/under-12 Juventus World Cup earlier this month.

The Grade 5 student at St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic School overcame his nerves to score four goals during the tournament, helping his team — nicknamed the “group of death” — come in third place.

"I was a little nervous because I was unsure what the competition would be like, but once we started to play, I was just happy to be playing,” he said.

Luca’s team, made up of players from Juventus Academy Toronto, kicked off the tournament with a 3-2 win over the team representing Greece.

They were outmatched in consecutive games against Poland and one of Tunisia's teams before winning their three next games.

In the end, Luca’s team fell to Sweden and one of the Tunisian teams — the tournament’s champions — in its final games.

"My favorite part was scoring my first goal. It was an incredible feeling,” he said. "It’s unbelievable to come third out of 32 teams from all over the world. (It) is an awesome accomplishment. I was proud to represent Canada and hear the national anthem being played."

The tournament's opening ceremonies were held at Allianz Stadium, where Juventus Football Club plays its home games, preliminary games were played in Bardonecchia, where Juventus does its pre-season games, and the final games were at Juventus Center, the pro team's training ground. 

Along with the tournament, Luca and his team visited the Juventus Museum and saw all their trophies.

He said he did not get to meet any of the players for Juventus, his favourite team, but he got to meet retired professional soccer players Pavel Nedved at the opening ceremonies and Gianluca Pessotto at the closing ceremonies.

Andrea Agnelli, Juventus chairman, was also at the awards ceremony.

The trip also marked Luca’s first airplane trip and the first time playing in a tournament of that level.

“This was an incredible opportunity for the team from Toronto to demonstrate that they can compete on the world stage,” said Luca’s dad, Enzo Venditti. “Luca already has his sights on training harder and is extremely motivated to return to Turin next year to bring home gold!”

Jenni Dunning

About the Author: Jenni Dunning

Jenni Dunning is a community editor and reporter who covers news in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.
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