It is often said that some things in life get better with age, and that might just be the case for Sudbury S.C. Italia. The local masters soccer team, which is made up of former competitive premiere league players who are 35 years of age and older, recently participated in the Muskoka Soccer Club Tournament for the fifth consecutive year, returning home victorious for the third time.
The win meant a lot to the team members, many of which have been playing together for at least the last quarter century. “It’s a pretty good accomplishment,” said the team’s coordinator, Pino Vocaturo. “The key to it all is we have a lot of fun and we really enjoy going to the tournament.”
The eight-team event took place in early fall in Huntsville and included teams from across Ontario, including squads from Niagara Falls, Kitchener and Muskoka as well as a pair of teams from the Toronto area. Although each team was comprised mostly of players who were at least 40, each entry was allowed to carry three or four players who were between the ages of 35 and 40.
For their part, the local crew went undefeated, winning their first three games by scores of 2-1, 4-0 and 4-1. In their final game against Scarborough, Tony Nunziale scored twice while Americo Tantalone and Tony Kuza added the insurance markers on the way to a 4-1 win.
Currently, the Huntsville competition remains the only tournament the team enters every year, but it still means a lot to the team because most other competitors take part in three or four tournaments a year and have more local competition and longer seasons. To boot, Sudbury S.C. Italia has been able to reach the finals of the tournament every year that they have entered.
“We really look forward for that long weekend in September,” says Vocaturo. “Most of these players that we play against are very good soccer players and they’re from the south, so they’re exposed to better soccer games, better teams and longer soccer seasons."
The team is made up of about 15 veterans, including Mario Anselmo, who has been playing soccer for over forty years and is now in his late 50s. The team has also played indoor soccer for the last couple years with a lot of success.
“We just love the game and love playing soccer and it’s a sport we play a lot,” says Vocaturo. “It’s just a bunch of friends who have played together so long and we’d just like to continue playing.” The team hopes to stay together for as long as they can and plan on entering the tournament every year and perhaps other tournaments in the future.
“The team is at the strongest point its ever been,” says the coordinator, who has been balancing his participation in soccer with work at Maslack Supply for the last 18 years. “I think if we continue going on with the same players, that we will do well every year.”
One area he would like to see the team improve in is its goaltending, since they do not have a steady goalkeeper and have always had to put one of their players in net. If they can get that problem addressed, he feels the team will be even stronger and more successful.
Looking to the future, the team hopes to bring an old-timers tournament to Sudbury, but Vocaturo clarifies that the group is only thinking about that option at this point and has no definite plans at the moment. “We haven’t talked about it yet, but we might at some point in the future, just to invite those teams to come to Sudbury and keep the tradition going,” he says. “It would definitely give some more exposure for soccer in Sudbury.”
Vocaturo admits that as he and his fellow players get older, it does get harder for them to stay in shape. Despite the challenge of Father Time, he plans on staying with the team and playing soccer until he can no longer physically compete. “We just want to have a lot of fun, be competitive, and to keep the game of soccer going,” he says. “As long as you are having fun and you like the sport, you keep playing until you can no longer play.”
The complete S.C. Italia roster includes: Rob Falvo, Rob Pyott, Peter Falvo, Tony Nunziale, Gary Choi, Mario Anselmo, Ron Menard, John Sikora, Hadi, Steve Simon, Tony Kuza, Pino Vocaturo, Bruno Ceccetto, Rob Zulich Americo Tantalone and Vocaturo.