A group of 19 soccer players from across Western Canada has been assembled by Moose Jaw Celtic for the purpose of developing together, and hopefully, heading to Scotland in a year.

The team is learning from the Celtic curriculum as they hope to play against Western Canada in the near future.

Alec Wells, a striker who is originally from Calgary, talked about what it means to have Celtic involved in the next stage of his development.

“Oh, it’s massive,” Wells said. “Not many clubs have the opportunity to have this partnership and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for every one of us is to take that next step into a bigger place into a bigger soccer world.”

Moose Jaw's Aleksa Bijelic is another of the players, and the midfielder is excited for this next stage in his development.

“It’s been difficult to go through all the quarantine stuff and a lockdown,” he said. “Getting back on the pitch is really exciting right now and I think it’s going to bring the best out of players because they haven’t been playing for some time now.”

Winger Jace Fraser, also from Moose Jaw, is also looking forward to getting on the pitch with the team.

“It’s going to get us all active again and start everything back up, get involved in team bonding and getting warmed up for the season,” he said.

The team has already started training together. Jordan Jeffery, Moose Jaw Soccer technical and executive director, was excited to see the Moose Jaw FC team together.

The players were born from 2003 to 2005 and a lot of they and their families met for the first time at a team dinner Sunday.

“That’s obviously a lot of players that have moved into Moose Jaw, too,” he said. “We wanted everybody to know that this program is a program that people are moving here to be part of. Obviously typically a lot of people move away from Moose Jaw to pursue opportunities and we really wanted to showcase the fact that we’re hosting an opportunity in town that we believe is strong enough for people to come here And be part of and grow with, and hopefully, from there, we can be a stepping stone to something bigger after.”

With no games in the immediate future, Jeffery said they will be training at this point so that when the opportunity arises, the players are ready to go.

“We’re still looking at a plan and it’s changing week by week, sadly because of the way the world is at the moment,” he said. “We want to make sure and get the boys ready.”