Inter Club – Campioni della BC

On Sunday, Club Inter of the Vancouver Metro Premier Soccer League were crowned Provincial Cup Champions. It was an intense affair against an unlikely opponent, Aldergrove FC of the Fraser Valley Soccer League. The Fraser Valley champions had an opportunity to go ahead early in the game with a penalty shot that was miraculously saved by Inter goalkeeper Erman Ozkan. Both teams traded chances and each hit a crossbar until Milad Rahmati of team Inter scored just before halftime after a goal line scramble.
The second half saw Inter again on the ascendancy until the final breakthrough late in the game when Milos added to his tally and slotted his second goal.
This was the club’s second visit to the Provincial Cup final in the last three seasons; an impressive run from one of the few, small, independent soccer clubs left in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL). This win has an extra special feeling associated to it as it was the one trophy missing from the club’s trophy cabinet. After 27 long seasons and 3 previous tries, they are now the newly crowned Men’s Provincial A Cup Champions and were able to solidify themselves as one of the best local amateur soccer teams in Metro Vancouver.
The story of Club Inter started 27 years ago in the lower leagues of Vancouver’s amateur soccer ranks. Formed by John Rizzutti and Sam Pantusa in 1990, Inter began their climb to the Premier Division in the lower leagues, starting in Division 3. Over the first few seasons they were impressively promoted and eventually become a mainstay in the Premier Division, home of the top amateur soccer players in the Lower Mainland, for 20 consecutive years. During that time, some of the most talented, local soccer players donned their traditional black and blue colors.
Former Inter Player, Joe Marrello was brought in to usher in a new, younger face to the team. Over the successive seasons following, Inter dominated the local soccer scene qualifying for the provincial cup playoffs in almost every season, winning league titles and playing in multiple finals over that time.
Trouble then hit the club, with an aging core and Inter’s inability to recruit the young talent necessary to continue their success, they were relegated to a lower division and would be forced to rebuild the squad. For a small, independent club, finances, sponsorships, and recruiting all become challenges that were oftentimes hard to overcome. Inter rallied and formed a group of players capable of gaining promotion the very next season and even more surprisingly, became the Imperial Cup Champions the following year after being relegated. Since then Inter needed to find innovative ways to fund the team and recruit players to remain competitive in the Premier Division.
Over the past 4 seasons, Inter seems to have re-established themselves as Premier mainstays and has become a team not to reckon with after two Provincial Cup final appearances in the last 3 seasons.
Long time Inter team captain and son of Joe, Joseph Marrello was given the coaching reins this past season after recovering from off-season surgery.
Holding a dual role of player/coach was always going “to present its challenges” says Joseph and after a tumultuous season, which saw the team finish 6th place in the 12 team league and qualify for the Provincial Cup Final, you could say it was certainly an accomplishment.
“Being part of this team for 17 seasons, it feels really good to win this one. Only a few years ago we were in Division 1 and were facing a complete rebuild. People were saying we should fold, or merge with another team. To get promoted, to win the Imperial Championship the following year, and now this—it is a really good feeling” says Joseph. The club now has to prepare itself for the National Championships, which will be held in Langley BC later this year, where they will represent British Columbia and go head to head against the other Canadian provinces.
For a small team with a storied history as the “other” Italian club in the community, Club Inter is starting to feel support throughout the community and they will need it.
Representing BC at the National Championships, in itself is a challenge on the field.
The extra recruiting and funding associated with it off the field is the real obstacle. For now though, they can hold their heads high and be satisfied knowing that despite the long road to get here, they are champions.
Article by: D.M. Worobets

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