The Cowichan Valley is well-represented in the Soccer Hall of Fame of British Columbia’s Class of 2021.
Coach Dano Thorne and the NIFA national team that won gold at the 2015 World Indigenous Games are being inducted this year, as is Emily Zurrer, who played 82 games with the national women’s team, winning bronze at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Thorne, a member of Cowichan Tribes, guided the team of First Nations soccer players to first place at the first-ever World Indigenous Games in Brazil in 2015. Nine of the 17 players came from First Nations communities across B.C. NIFA defeated the Brazilian Indigenous Nation of Xerente in front of 10,000 local fans to win the final match. Regulation play ended in a 0-0 draw, and NIFA prevailed 3-1 on penalty kicks.
Thorne and NIFA repeated the feat at the second Games in Alberta in 2017.
“I am very proud of this induction of this team and what we accomplished in 2015,” Thorne said. “It would have been nice to have a couple local players on the team but the ladies we had became a powerful team leading to the win. It is deserved and the letter from BC Soccer is true testimony of our win.
“We won again in 2017 but this first is forever special for the ladies and coaches. We await for a future third tournament and continue to try to close the gaps of the systems; I’m very proud to remember my Thorne football ancestors who are smiling down. Dreams come true.”
Zurrer grew up in Crofton and got her start in the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association at the age of seven. She went on to win a provincial U13 championship with Cowichan, and silver and bronze medals with Team BC at nationals in 2002 and 2003. She played four years at the University of Illinois, where she was named an All-American three times and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. That was followed by a senior club career that included stints with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Red Eleven, Seattle Reign, and clubs in Sweden and Germany.
Zurrer began her international career with Canada’s U16 team in 2002, then played for the U17 team in 2003, and the U20 team from 2004-2006. She was a mainstay with the national women’s team from 2004 to 2015, winning a CONCACAF championship in 2010 and Olympic bronze in 2012. She was inducted into the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame in 2012.