WAILUA — For Kayley Gardner of the Makani soccer team, practice on Wednesday was a series of firsts at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Sports Park near Lydgate Park.
Normally practicing at the North Vidinha fields, Makani moved to Wailua due to the setup for Kauai Hospice’s Concert in the Sky. Under normal conditions, practice would have been cancelled, but for Makani, there was an urgency as the team prepares to participate with an Under 11 girls team in the Hawaiian International Cup on Oahu, July 9-12.
Makani Coach Ramon Semblante said there are several players who will play with the Bulls team from Honolulu, and one, Nicky Semblante, a student coach, who will be playing with the Under 15 Bulls team.
“I’m helping coach the U11 Makani team who will be playing on their own,” Semblante said. “This also helps me learn some of the new drills I need to play in this tournament. This is not my first Oahu tournament so I’m just looking forward to having fun and exercise.”
Two girls, Jannelle Puplava and Kathryn Pasion, will be joining the Bulls team as guest players in the U12 division, Coach Semblante said.
“This is the first time I’m playing in an Oahu tournament,” said Puplava, a goalkeeper. “I’m kind of nervous, but looking forward to the experience. I’ve been playing goalkeeper since I started playing soccer. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s not so hard. It gets hard to play when the offense tries for the far post, or shoots over my head.”
Pasion said this trip is her first time playing soccer away from Kauai.
“I’m kind of nervous,” she said. “But after the game, there is the water park, and I like that.”
Her comments drew cheers from the new additions to Makana — Jesseka Palumbo, Kalista Brigante and Lily Watari from the North Shore FC program.
“Makani asked us to play for them so I’m happy,” Palumbo said. “This is the first time we’re playing in a tournament away from Kauai and I’m looking forward to scoring goals and looking good while doing it. We also get to go to the water park after the games.”
Makani player Jasmine Semblante is no stranger to playing with the Bulls, or playing in tournaments on Oahu.
On this trip, she will be playing with Makani, but after the tournament when the rest of the team returns to Kauai, Semblante will be joined by the coach and her brother Nicky as they continue traveling on to Anaheim, Calif., where she will be playing with the Bulls Under 11 boys team at tournament in San Diego, July 17 through 20.
“I don’t know,” Jasmine Semblante said tentatively. “This is the first time I’ll be playing in a Mainland tournament, and on top of that, I’ll be playing on a boys team with another girl. I guess it’s good because they asked us to play with them.”
Coach Semblante said they’ll make the best of the Mainland trip.
“At least we get to go to Disneyland,” he said. “Maybe next year, we’ll take the girls to the Mainland. We’ll be in Anaheim, so hopefully, we can see one or two games the U12 Kalaheo Futsal Club will be playing in at the national futsal championships.”
Lifeway Pharmacy is sponsoring the team’s uniforms for this trip.