Pro returns to hometown

By CURTIS J. PHILLIPS, Connect Weekly

Austin Couture

Austin Couture

At the age of nine, Austin Couture was down in Waterways at Howard J. Pew Memorial Family Park; enjoying the playground and running through the spray park when Will Gibson, who was conducting a youth soccer clinic at the adjacent soccer pitch, invited the wee tyke to take part.

The rest is history.

Six years later, Couture, born in Fort McMurray and now residing in Edmonton (attending St. Joseph’s High School and Ascension Collegiate, while perfecting his skills with FC Edmonton Academy) has headed back home for the week as part of Team Alberta in men’s soccer at the 2015 Wood Buffalo Western Canada Summer Games.

The 5-foot-6 holding midfielder, who was part of the 2013 Arctic Winter Games indoor futsal gold medal squad, is happy he has returned to familiar turf.

“(This) is an opportunity to show the players who I played with back home (Couture left for Edmonton after Grade 9) that it doesn’t matter where you are from that with hard work things will pay off. I want to give them, the younger players, a role mode, a local player that they can look up to. I did not really have one growing up in Fort McMurray, as soccer wasn’t really a big thing.”

It was on the advice of Ian Diaz technical director of Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association that Couture said he decided, along with his mother, Nicole Kennedy, to make the move south: “He (Diaz) saw something in me and thought I should take it to the next level.

“I had to do something with the game I loved. I had to get out of Fort McMurray for a step up. I needed a different environment… more competitive.”

“I had to do something with the game I loved. I had to get out of Fort McMurray for a step up. I needed a different environment… more competitive.”

Of his time in local youth soccer, Couture recalled the near perfect season with the Fury rep team when he was 12: “It was the best season. Eighteen games and one defeat at provincials where we lost in the shoot-out.”

Going into Grade 11 this fall, Couture’s future goal is to one day play professional soccer following in the cleats of local players Wesley Stephens and Liam De Silva: “I have to keep working hard in training and in games.”
He thanks all of his coaches to assisting him to where he has got to so far, including his stepfather C.J. Quinton.

“He did not have a lot of technical knowledge, but he was one of the people who believed in me and pushed me to who I am today. To be a hard worker,” Couture said.

“He did not have a lot of technical knowledge, but he was one of the people who believed in me and pushed me to who I am today. To be a hard worker,” he said.

“You can have the technical abilities and they will bring you only so far but hard work will take your further.”

– Connect Weekly –