Central City Breakers’ United squad with trophy and banner after winning the the 2019 Toyota National Championship in St. Johns on Monday. (submitted photo)

SOCCER

VIDEO: Surrey soccer team wins national title for teammate Bassi, killed in car crash last spring

‘It meant the world to us to win it for him,’ says team manager/coach

** This story has been updated with an additional interview

Surrey’s Central City Breakers won it for Brandon.

The soccer club’s United squad are national champions after a 2-0 win in St. John’s on Monday (Oct. 14).

The jubilant men in blue celebrated by holding up the #5 jersey of fallen teammate Brandon Bassi, who was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Newton last May.

It was the last jersey Bassi ever wore, according to team manager and coach, Ted Hans.

The players also chanted “BB5!” and “Brandon!” during a Challenge Trophy presentation following the 2019 Toyota National Championship game.

“It meant the world to us to win it for him,” Hans told the Now-Leader.

“He was such a big part of the team and left a lasting hole in our lives and on our team.

“We have dedicated everything we do as a team to him and his memory. Having his dad (Kulwinder) lift the trophy and be with us was amazing and gave the guys a lift.”

CLICK HERE to watch video of the entire game.

Bassi, 19, a Delta resident, played club soccer with CCB and was also part of Simon Fraser University’s soccer program and a Vancouver Whitecaps prospect. He died on May 18 from injuries after a black Jeep was totalled in an early-morning crash near the intersection of 78th Avenue and 122nd Street.

• RELATED STORY: ‘Outstanding’ SFU soccer star ID’d as man who died after Surrey crash.

As Team B.C., the Central City squad beat Ontario’s Ottawa St. Anthony to win the national title on Monday. After a scoreless first half, Surrey’s Caleb Clarke put B.C. ahead 20 minutes into the second half, and Milad Mehrabi got a second goal in injury time.

CCB defender Derrick Bassi, who is Brandon’s brother, was forced to cheer from the sidelines after pulling a hamstring in the team’s second game at nationals.

“With him there on the bench, and his dad on the sidelines, too, it was amazing,” head coach Diaz Kambere said. “That was a great help and pushed the players. We had such an advantage, almost like having Brandon there in spirit.

“It was so emotional,” Kambere added. “We had a terrible loss in our family. Our team name is United, but we truly are united. It was beautiful watching the guys play in honour in him. They weren’t playing just to win nationals, it was something bigger than that. For each game it was like having 12 men. I didn’t see us losing it, really.”

Bassi died just a couple weeks after the team won the provincial title last May, in Nanaimo. That win propelled CCB to this week’s tournament in St. John’s and the club’s first national men’s championship.

“It’s amazing to coach a group of men like this, with no quit,” Kambere said. “Everybody thought we were done after provincials, because of what happened, and we started the league 0-and-3 (win-loss record). But we landed in St. John’s with a chip on our shoulders and wanted to prove we’re the real deal.”

To lift the Challenge trophy, CCB won their three opening games followed by a 1-1 draw with Alberta, leading to Monday’s final. Clarke and Mehrabi each scored four goals in the tourney, with singles from Milad Rahmati and Boris Si.

Throughout, team captain Luke O’Shea was solid in net. “He was the guy with Brandon’s jersey at the end of the final game,” Kambere noted. “In the video you can see how he gets the guys going, and he’s a big-time leader.”

The team flew home late Monday, not long after the final whistle.

“We didn’t get a chance to party much, because we flew out four hours later and guys had to work and stuff today,” Kambere said Tuesday. “We’ll have a team dinner or something later this week, to celebrate. And we’ll probably take a week off and get our bodies healthy, after five games in six days, which is tough, and try to get the season rolling here.”

In other soccer nationals action, Surrey United’s U15 and 17 girls teams both won bronze medals, giving Surrey teams three medals at tournaments held in three separate cities.

• READ MORE: Bronze medals for both Surrey United girls teams at soccer nationals.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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