Young Bulldog looking to raise funds to represent country in Texas
When 14-year-old Matt Pastro learned he made the cut to play football for U15 Team Canada, the news was bittersweet.
While this Langford teen has the talent and the drive to perform on the field, he doesn’t have the money to represent his country — about $4,000. The game between Team Canada and Team USA is in San Antonio, Texas, in January.
Matt is rising in the football ranks on the heels of his brother Chris Pastro, a starting linebacker for the West Shore Rebels, a top former Bulldog and Team B.C. player. The football brothers live with their mom Elise Pastro in Langford.
“It would be a dream come true to play, but I have a single mother who can’t provide the thousands of dollars (I would need to go),” Matt said.
Elise works as a educational assistance for the Sooke School District. When she heard her son made the team she was thrilled, but knew there was no way she could afford to pay for the trip and take a week off work to accompany her son to Texas.
“It’s heart wrenching,” Elise said. “Sometimes financial hardship gets in the way.”
To help Matt play for Team Canada, the Pastros are looking for community support and donations to help send him to Texas.
“It is humbling to look to the community to make your son’s dreams come true,” Elise said.
Making this team was a huge accomplishment for Matt. “It’s the beginning of his lifelong career,” Elise said.
Matt’s ultimate goal is to play professional football. As part of his plan to rise to the top, he moved from Cowichan to Langford to play for the Belmont Bulldogs and train with head coach Kevin Harrington.
His next goal is to play for the University of Southern California. The experience of playing for Team Canada will help him move closer to this goal.
“I have been playing football for a long time (six years) and it’s a lot of fun,” Matt said.
Matt was selected to play on Team Canada after he was identified as an elite player through the Football University camp held in Vancouver in March.
Soon after he was invited to submit video footage highlights of his play to Team Canada officials, and he quickly made the cut.
While most kids find it tough to juggle the responsibilities of school, football and family, Matt has taken on three times the pressure.
This season he has played on Belmont secondary’s junior varsity and varsity teams as well as the community team, the Victoria Spartans.
“He is great kid who works hard everyday in practice and he is continuing to get better,” Harrington said. “We are expecting big things out of Matt for several years to come.”
“Most football players play one game a week, and Matt plays three games a week,” Elsie said. “He is a Grade 9 boy who is going up against Grade 12 boys.”
Matt attends Spencer middle school and needed permission from Spencer and Belmont schools to play for both teams.
While there are a few junior varsity players who played in varsity games, Matt was the only player this year who played full time on both teams.
“He was a difference maker at the junior varsity level for a lot of our plays this season,” Harrington said.
After the first four JV games Matt was first in the league for tackles. The rest of the stats haven‘t been finalized.
“He loves football, he just loves it,” Elise said.
Local businesses or individuals can make cheque donations to Elise Pastro c/o Kevin Harrington at Belmont secondary school. Donations can be dropped of at the school at 3067 Jacklin Rd.
The family is also having a bottle drive on Saturday Nov. 19 at Belmont from noon to 5 p.m.
To arrange for bottle pick up or for more information on donating, email Elise at firstname.lastname@example.org