The Ramara Rockets will be swapping their yellow and gold uniforms with red and white next year.
After all, they want to look the part while they’re representing their country in an international soccer tournament in Italy.
The Ramara girls soccer team will be competing in the under-18 division at the 38th annual Agropoli International Invitational Youth Soccer Tournament in Agropoli, southeast of Naples, in April.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Rockets coach Sebastian Chiaramida. “It’s a memory for them.”
The Canadian representative for the tournament asked the coach if his team would be interested in attending. The Rockets jumped at the chance to be the only Canadian team invited to compete in the under-18 division.
“We want to make this area proud and show we’re good even if we’re from a small area,” said Claire Lassaline, 16.
“Good” might be an understatement, as the Rockets, under the tutelage of Chiaramida, win almost all of their matches.
But they’re flying into a country that lives and breathes soccer, and the seriousness with which the Italians and other Europeans take the game is not lost on Lassaline.
“We know how we’re doing here, but we don’t know how good we are on a global scale,” she said. “I’m looking forward to finding that out.”
Elaine Treash, 15, is also looking forward to the learning opportunity.
“I think I’ll be able to improve my skills and also have fun,” said the goaltender.
There will certainly be time for fun. The planned itinerary will see the Rockets exploring ancient Rome and the Isle of Capri.
“We are very excited for the travelling,” said Avery Dobson, 16. “I’m very excited because it opens doors and opportunities.”
When the team touches down in Rome on April 14, it won’t be long before the sightseeing takes a back seat and the action kicks into high gear. The Rockets’ first game will be played April 17, and Dobson admitted she is somewhat “intimidated” to take on teams from afar.
“They totally see another side of the game,” she said. “They live it.”
The Rockets have demonstrated their ability to rally as a team, though, and they will do so again in Agropoli.
“We have to get into the mental state and have confidence,” said Lassaline. “If you don’t have confidence, you don’t have anything, really.”
Chiaramida has confidence in his athletes — and in the generosity of the community to help them get to Italy.
The community will have a chance to help this weekend. The Rockets will be stationed in Orillia at No Frills and Canadian Tire from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, collecting donations to ease the financial burden of their overseas adventure. The trip will cost the 14 players about $2,700 each.