Zadorsky touted as upcoming star

AMANDA ROBINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Soccer coach Joel Georges has a prediction: In at least two years everyone will be talking about Shelina Zadorsky.

By then the 14-year-old won't be known as the next Charmaine Hooper, Canada's all-time leading women's soccer scorer. Instead Georges -- Zadorsky's former coach --believes she'll be in a league of her own and other players will be compared to her.

"She's a phenomenal player," Georges said. "Every game you expect something out of the ordinary."

A striker who can play strong with both feet, Zadorsky's considered a rarity by coaches. Willy Latyn, another former coach, said few of the world's top players have this ability.

And Soccer Canada has taken notice.

Zadorsky travelled to Ottawa for a nine-day training camp that ended Sunday, missing her first OFSAA -- in which top-seeded London Aquinas fell in the round-robin -- to play with Canada's best.

It's the first of a series of camps for 20 elite players hoping to earn a spot on the under-17 national team, which will participate in the FIFA World Cup in New Zealand in 2008. It's the first time this age group will compete in a tournament run by the world's governing federation.

"She will make it," Georges said. "There's no doubt in my mind."

Zadorsky remains humble about her prospects despite playing on the under-16 Ontario team in Chile this year. "I don't really know. There are a lot of different players here," she said during the camp in Ottawa.

At an early age, Zadorsky was groomed to be an athlete. She was on the soccer field at four years old and cycling and running at five. Her mother Mary, who played competitive volleyball and basketball when she was young, wanted her three children to build up their cardio system and play high-contact sports.

While her two older daughters played soccer and were talented, Mary noticed something special in her youngest.

"You could see very young she definitely had a gift. She's got a drive and that's what the coaches see."

Latyn said her natural striker ability kicked at four years old when she was scoring five and six goals a game.

"She always wanted to play, while some kids were out there picking dandelions."

When Zadorsky was nine, Latyn and Georges teamed up to coach her on a Kitchener Spirit rep squad.

She's been named MVP numerous times and last year earned the Golden Boot award as the Ontario Youth Soccer League's top scorer.

"It was exciting to know that I scored the most goals in the league for my age," she said.

But in January her long run with the Spirit came to an end when her family moved to London. Leaving her old team "was tough," but soccer made the change easier. She joined the London City Supernova.

And she won the hearts of Aquinas fans after scoring a spectacular goal in the Thames Valley Region Athletic Association AAAA final, which the Flames won 3-1 over the Lucas Vikings.

Top U.S. schools are already wooing her, but the Grade 9 student seems indifferent to the attention. She's focused on playing for Canada.

"I would feel so honoured to represent my country in the sport I love playing," she said. "If I could do that, that would be awesome, and if I work hard, I know I can get there."


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