Brendan Eshom wasn’t able to finish atop the podium at the BC Summer Games with his northwest zone soccer team, but the 14-year-old North Coast athlete did bring something extra special back home with him from Abbotsford in July.
Eshom was one of 16 athletes and officials who won the Coast Capital Savings Leadership Bursary at the closing ceremony of the 2016 BC Summer Games.
The Rupertite was awarded $500, to be used toward future sport or educational expenses, after being one of more than 200 applicants for the bursary, who have shown and demonstrated leadership qualities in their schools, community or sport.
Eshom was one of two Zone 7 winners of the bursary, along with Vanderhoof’s Felicia Brooks, and was recognized for helping to coach, competing in the preliminary tournaments for the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, and volunteering at the food bank.
“I just help with my siblings and my dad coaching,” he said last week.
“[I started] getting involved at the food bank probably three or four years ago and every single year we do a food drive at Thanksgiving. We collect food and we deliver bags to every single house [involved in the program], pick them up on another day, then sort them and bring them back to the food bank.”
The Rupert teen plays soccer almost year-round every year and this August, he’ll be competing with the under-15 Northwest United team for a spot at the 2017 Indigenous Games in Toronto next summer. Eshom and his teammates, most of whom are from the Hazelton area, will play in the BC Aboriginal Soccer Championships in Prince George from Aug. 26 – 28, the selection event for the North American Indigenous Games.
“I practice twice a week in Hazelton,” he said.
The level of play from the BC Summer Games has him prepped for higher level teams in Prince George later this month.
“The level of competition was high down south. I played centre-back, defence in four games,” he said.
In winning the bursary, Eshom mentioned that volunteering is a unique experience that is hard to replicate anywhere else.
“I choose to volunteer because it gives me a chance to give back to the community that I have grown up in. Volunteering also helps me develop new skills and enhance [my] experience and knowledge,” he said.
At the BC Summer Games, athletes aren’t supposed to compete in the same sport more than once, but Eshom was able to return to the soccer pitch in 2016 after playing in 2014 due to a change in age restrictions at the tourney. In Prince Rupert, he helps his dad, Gordon Eshom, coach the Prince Rupert under-15 rep soccer team, along with head coach Gord Armstrong.
“We are continually impressed with the level of commitment that BC Games participants make, not only to their sport, but to their community. We know each one of these recipients will be inspirational leaders and make a tremendous impact now and in the future,” added Kelly Mann, president of the BC Games Society.