By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
While Taiwan’s media and sports fans are infected with World Cup fever, as the quadrennial event is set to begin in Russia on Thursday, many local soccer enthusiasts are wondering how to make the nation competitive enough to qualify for major international tournaments.
Youth soccer programs such as the Taipei European School’s （TES） Victory League, which has been hosting youth soccer competitions for years, are one way of getting there.
With support from parents and corporate partners, the league is run by the Master Football Academy （MFA） with the help of certified referees provided by the Chinese Taipei Football Association （CTFA）.
A total of 32 clubs, in under-8 to under-12 age groups, competed in the 160 matches of the 2017-2018 Victory League season, which culminated in a Football Festival at TES last month.
After the youngsters took part in a skills challenge, the MFA and game officials presented awards for individual honors and the team title trophies.
Tree House Academy won the title in the under-12 Championship group, with Most Valuable Player being awarded to the Heartbreakers’ Samantha Lauer. In the under-12 Premier League, Nick Chen （16 goals） took Most Valuable Player and the Golden Boot award, after having led FCB to the title.
Finishing the season with a perfect record in the under-10 Championship group, the Royal Dragons garnered 30 points from their 10 wins, racked up 58 goals and won the group title.
Royal Dragons forward Danny Carroll scored a record-breaking 36 goals and was awarded Most Valuable Player and the Golden Boot award. Teammate Lukas Heinig, goalkeeper for the Royal Dragons, was honored with the Golden Glove award.
In the under-10 Premier League, the title went to FCB, with Josh Kuo of the MFA Seniors receiving Most Valuable Player and Alston Chang （7 goals） of SF United grabbing up the Golden Boot award.
In the under-8 Championship group, MFA Banquiao seized the title, while the team’s top player, Paul Wu （15 goals）, took Most Valuable Player and the Golden Boot award.
FCB won the title in the under-8 Premier League, followed by SF United in second. SF United’s Ray Lee （19 goals） collected Most Valuable Player and the Golden Boot award.
“It has been a very good year for the Victory League, and we congratulate the successful teams, with many outstanding achievements by players,” TES director of educational services Kerry Nockolds said.
“The league provides opportunities for the youngsters to have fun and play soccer, to experience competitive sports as part of a team and develop their skills individually,” Nockolds said.
MFA’s Michael Chandler said more teams are likely to be added, thanks to an upsurge of interest in the game in the local community, as young people and parents get involved.
“We do plan to expand the TES Victory League next season. First, by attracting more teams in the current age groups and secondly, by adding leagues for the under-6 and under-14 age categories,” Chandler said. “We are thankful for the partnership with TES.”
A Heartbreakers player competes in the skills challenge at the Football Festival at the Taipei European School last month. Photo courtesy of Michael Chandler of MFA
Royal Dragons forward Danny Carroll, right, receives a Most Valuable Player trophy from a Taiwan Mulan soccer representative at the Football Festival at the Taipei European School last month. Photo courtesy of Michael Chandler of MFA