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Canada's Universade Team - Gavric


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Don't know if this is the right place to place this but......

From the KW Record

Return to Serbia brings back troubling memories


June 13, 2009

Christine Rivet



When Branko Gavric strides onto the soccer pitch wearing Canada's colours in his native Serbia, he'll fly the flags of everyone he remembers back at Eastwood Collegiate.

Eastwood's patchwork of nationalities and the possibilities they shaped together have left an indelible mark on him.

More than the championships he helped the Eastwood Rebels win during his days there, Gavric recalls how the game of soccer united a disparate group of boys.

Many, like him, were new to Canada.

Gavric, 21, was recently named to Canada's entry at the Summer Universiade. Also known as the World University Games, the event runs July 1-12 in Belgrade.

"I feel like I'm representing all those guys," said Kitchener's Gavric, an all-conference midfielder and captain of his new team, the College of Charleston in South Carolina. "Not everyone had the opportunities I did.

"These are the people who always wished me well. So I carry them on my shoulders and remember them."

Now a Canadian citizen, the son of working-class parents recalls how the bombs in his war-torn homeland chased his family to Canada 14 years ago.

Gavric's relationship with soccer is thorny.

Although the sport opened up a world of opportunity for Gavric, it nearly killed him, too.

When a missile exploded near his house in Serbia, at the exact spot where he and his father, Nebojsa, were playing soccer moments before, the family knew it was time to leave.

"That was life or death. It was destiny right there," remembered Gavric. "There was no way anybody could have survived that blast. Half the house was missing."

Those dark days in Serbia are memories that don't fade.

And now, Gavric gets the chance to return to a rebuilt Serbia, playing the game he loves, for his new country, before family members who stayed behind.

He can only hope that this time his generation gets it right.

"I don't hold any grudges or hate toward anyone. I just try to move on and build peace."

When the curly topped Gavric arrived at Eastwood and its English-as-a-second-language program, he and many other recent immigrants gathered on the only familiar territory they could find -- the school's soccer field.

Soccer was the common denominator for the kids, some of whom had escaped the former Yugoslavia be they Serb, Bosnian, Croatian or Kosovar.

Gavric remembers a time when such a union between those ethic groups on the soccer field would have sparked a riot in Yugoslavia.

"You just remind them that they have to forget what's going on back home," said Gavric's former coach at Eastwood, Jaret Brown. "It's time to start fresh and that's what they do."

"The ball is what brings everyone together," Gavric said after his helped the Rebels win the senior boys regional soccer crown 2005.

This summer and before he returns for his third year in Charleston, Gavric is working for a soccer academy in Toronto and is playing for one of the top amateur clubs in Canada, the Toronto Lynx.

He dreams of tugging the senior Canadian national team jersey over his head.

Gavric can also envision a time when he returns to Eastwood, as a teacher.

"I love trying to help kids out anyway I can. I think that would be a great job, to be able to set the path for the future."

Another of Gavric's former soccer coaches at Eastwood, George Sedra, remains an academic adviser to Gavric, who maintains a B-plus average in his biology studies down south.

Sedra said he'll be thrilled the day Gavric unpacks his briefcase at Eastwood.

"This (place) was a defining moment in his life. It is always your first success, your first moment that drives you and makes you soar to higher skies. No wonder Branko wants to come back to teach at Eastwood."


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  • 2 weeks later...


Jamaal Smith is also on the team:


Position - Name - University - Eligibility * - Hometown

Goalkeeper Haidar Al-Shaibani Western A London, Ont.

Goalkeeper Gerardo Argento Montreal 4 Montreal, Que.

Defence Alexandre Lévesque-Tremblay Laval 4 Baie-Saint-Paul, Que.

Defence Paul Seymour Western 4 Ottawa, Ont.

Defence Jason Gill UBC 2 Abbotsford, B.C.

Defence Jamaal Smith York 3 Mississauga, Ont.

Defence Graham Smith UBC 4 Abbotsford, B.C.

Midfield Guillaume Couturier Montreal 3 Candiac, Que.

Midfield Branko Gavric Charleston # 3 Kitchener, Ont.

Midfield Francesco Bruno York 3 Toronto, Ont.

Midfield Alexander Marrello Buffalo 3 Burnaby, B.C.

Midfield Josh Northey Saskatchewan 2 Saskatoon, Sask.

Midfield James Scholefield McGill 5 Pointe-Claire, Que.

Mid. / Forw. John Konye Alberta 5 Edmonton, Alta.

Forward Jerson Barandica Hamilton Saskatchewan 2 Saskatoon, Sask.

Forward Matthew D'Angelo Carleton + 5 Ottawa, Ont.

Forward Cole McFarlane Victoria 4 Calgary, Alta.

Forward Daniel Revivo Winthrop 4 Richmond Hill, Ont.

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Neato. I had great fun at the 2003 Daegu Universiade in South Korea. I went to two Canada matches (vs. Iran and vs. Nigeria) and two Britain matches (vs. Ukraine and vs. China).

Tried to buy tickets to the Britain-Ukraine match, but I was told that it had sold out. So I turned up anyway on the day, and they had given about a hundred freebies (about half the tickets) to some church group who were "assigned" to cheer for each team. They had brought boxes of mini flags on sticks of the two countries playing that they gave out. There were even "cheerleaders"! There were also a few family members of other British players, but other than that, my buddy and I were the only real spectators in the place.

Went to Britain vs. China a few days later, and I was literally the only caucasian person there (other than the British team, who were mostly players from the English Conference). Almost got into a brawl with some Chinese supporters who I inadvertently made irate with some insensitive baiting in Mandarin, but that'll be a chapter in my Korean club footie book that you can read next year.

Quite a few Canadians living in the Daegu area came out to the Canada vs. Iran match (which was interesting, as no Brits living in Korea turned up for either of their matches). Canada finished 15th out of 16th that year if I recall correctly, winning the "15th vs. 16th" match again Nigeria.

Looks like it's a fairly new squad. I remember several of the players (e.g. Steve Frazao) played in several Universiade tournaments (2003, 2005, 2007...). Might as well milk being an "international" footballer for as long as you can, I suppose.

Good times.

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