He wasn't able to play but Anthony Preston showed up to support his PGYSA under-14 Kodiaks teammates during Saturday's exhibition game.
But it was a difficult position for the 13-year-old, forced to sit on the sidelines due to B.C. Soccer provincial rules, as he could only watch helplessly as his teammates fell 1-0 to an under-15 boys team from Terrace.
"Frustrating, it's not really in my nature to sit back and let other people do the work," said Preston. "Also it was salt in the wound that we lost. It's not a good feeling."
Something he can feel good about is getting named to the British Columbia Soccer provincial development program. Preston was the only player from northern B.C. listed among the Top 20 under-14 players.
Preston said his inclusion is because of his commitment to practicing with his Kodiaks' teammates all winter and his decision to commute to the Lower Mainland every week between February and June to play with the Surrey United U13 boys in the B.C. Premier League.
"I was excited and nervous because it was new and I'd never really played outside of Prince George," said Preston. "It was a great experience playing in Surrey with players my own size where I was able to improve my skills."
His season with Surrey United ended when they lost their final regular season game in mid-June, which forfeited their chances of making the playoffs. Because he plays in the premier league, Preston is unable to play with the Kodiaks due to B.C. Soccer provincial rules. If Preston did play with the Kodiaks they would forfeit their chance to contend for the provincial B cup championship, July 4-7 in Prince George, because the provincial rules state no premier player can play with a lower-ranked team.
Even though he can't play, Preston said he still likes to attend the Kodiaks games when he's at home to cheer on the team that allowed him to practice with them during the week before he went to Surrey for games.
Preston said after a friend told him about joining the premier team in Kelowna, all he could think about was trying out for the league himself. Eventually his chatter convinced his parents he was serious and they started sending emails to several Lower Mainland teams to garner interest.
Ann Preston said the coaches with Surrey were willing to allow her son to commute from Prince George, which was important because she wasn't comfortable with him moving away from home at such a young age.
"I think his first word was ball," said Ann, about why making the weekly drive so her son could pursue his soccer dreams. "He's like a tiger out there on the pitch."
The next camp for the B.C. development program is in September so Preston will be on the sidelines cheering on his teammates when they host the U14 B Cup provincial championship, July 4-7.