Captains Ali and Phelan demonstrate great mentorship to young team
By Courtnie Martin, Sports Reporter
It’s not often that you hear about two people so unanimously well-thought-of, but the 2013-14 men’s soccer captains are just that. Fifth-year centre-back Mohammed “Mo” Ali describes his fellow captain and centre-back, third-year Devin Phelan as, “quiet, hard-working, a leader by example, and the team’s best defender.”
If you ask Phelan his thoughts on Ali, he simply describes him as, “the inspiration to the team.”
Two men with one common goal: a national title.
“I think Mo and I are complete opposites; that’s why we work so damn good together. I sit back and work my butt off and he motivates me to do it,” says Phelan.
The team describes the two in exactly the same way: “Devin leads by example and works really hard. He doesn’t say much—just shows it. Mo, he pumps us up. He does all the talking,” comments rookie midfielder, Illias (Louie) Bocolas.
Fullback Estefan Corra and centre-mid Dorian Colopisis jokingly describe Phelan as “Captain Canada” and Ali as the “passive-aggressive asshole” they love so much.
With the team carrying 16 rookies and nearly half of them starting, Ali and Phelan are thought to be the perfect yin and yang to the equation. While Phelan demonstrates with sweat and passion what the rookies should be doing on the field, Ali imparts his knowledge and wisdom of the game to the players. Where one may be lacking, the other isn’t. “Devin and I are very close; we don’t just hang out on the field. I can call him for anything,” says Ali.
Of course, all the kudos doesn’t go to just Ali and Phelan. They describe their team as, “young but well prepared.” The coaches prepared the squad for the season by putting them through gruelling workouts. As a result, the players all agreed they had never come into a season as conditioned and mentally tough as they did this year. Although their record was 3-1-2 heading into last weekend (September 28 and 29), the team still has high hopes for a very successful year.
Their most recent game against Vancouver Island University (VIU) was by far the sweetest victory. After losing to VIU at Nationals in the semi-finals last year, it was only fitting that the Royals come back and set a different tone for this year, beating them 3-0 last weekend. Mo smiles broadly, saying, “It was a great feeling. I left the game last year looking at my teammates’ pain. I was determined to get payback for the fifth-year players… and we did it!”
With great captains, the skepticism of a thick rookie line-up gone, very experienced coaching staff, and a team ready and willing to leave their guts out on the field, the Royals have a fighting chance at winning the league and moving up the chain to Provincials and hopefully Nationals. “I stole this from the rookie, Haden, but every athlete is created equal. Some just work harder in preseason,” comments Ali. “And please, take each year one step at a time; you only have five years to compete at this level. Don’t waste them.”