SEATTLE, WA—Andriy Szkwarek is of Ukrainian heritage, but he’s Canadian and a Major in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He’s also a goalkeeper. Now he’s taken up the cause of gaining support for Inter United FC, a club out of Tukwila that plays in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL.)
Andriy came to Seattle when he was selected to serve on an exchange posting to the 62 Airlift Wing at JBLM in 2012. “After serving 16-plus years in the Canadian Armed Forces, my time at 62 AW has certainly been the highlight of it all,” he says.
“I played four years of varsity soccer at the Royal Military College of Canada, where the highlight was a top 10 national ranking – a big accomplishment for a school of less than 1000 people,” begins Andriy, catching us up on his overall career in the sport.
“After school, when stationed in Ottawa, I was the reserve goalkeeper for the Ottawa Wizards of the Canadian Professional Soccer League. The reserve team, Kanata Soccer Post, entered the Ontario Cup and we won the competition. The next year, a group of players including myself joined another club called the Ottawa Royals. We also won the Ontario cup, which was a repeat victory for those of us who played on Kanata the year before. This is a feat that had not been accomplished since before World War 2, and hasn’t been accomplished since. The Ottawa Royals season ended in a Natioanl Silver medal, after losing in penalties.”
Szkwarek has been able to combine his service with playing soccer overseas. “I’ve played for the Canadian Armed Forces national team from 1999-2010. Played in competitions in England, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, as well as the United States. The highlight was qualifying for the 2007 military World Games in Hyderabad, India.”
The Emerald City is also a place he’s played, for a few clubs. “In Seattle, I’ve won the GSSL with Fuego and SPSL with Seattle Stars.”
Andriy is a coach too, holding his B License with both the CSA and USSF.
Now comes the part with Inter United. It seems like an odd fit for a RCAF Major to be playing and drumming up support for a fledgling Seattle-area soccer club.
“I decided to join Inter United because my time in the area is limited (being in the military), and I wanted to give something back to the Puget Sound soccer community,” Szkwarek explains.
“Since Inter is a charity that aims to provide elite opportunities for underserviced communities, I wanted to do my part to help the club realize its venerable goals. Basically, I feel very fortunate for the many opportunities that soccer has given me, and I want to do what I can to help other people find similar opportunities.”
It’s been a financial challenge to run a club at this level, which is USA fourth division. It’s also an organizational challenge. “I guess since I bore witness to these challenges is why I took on fundraising and player-coach responsibilities,” he says. “Aside from what I can do on the field, I felt I could use my coaching experience to build a strong team, and use my organizational skills as a Major in the Royal Canadian Air Force to make the club stronger from within.”
One step is to ask the greater soccer community for help. A page at GoFundMe has been set up. Here’s the address: http://www.gofundme.com/SeattleInterUnited
“My goals for the club are to win our division in the NPSL and advance as far as we can in the US Open cup. To get there, I want to build a first team with players of the highest quality, but who also have strong character.”
For this Canadian’s dreams to come true, he’ll need plenty of support from his home-away-from-home, Seattle.
goalWA.net Local Soccer News is sponsored by Pro Roofing Northwest, Kirkland, Bellevue, Seattle, Redmond, Woodinville, Federal Way, Everett, Snohomish, Issaquah, Renton, Kent, Bothell, Edmonds Washington roofing company.