He can still trap a ball coming at him any speed. His passes are crisp and accurate and he can run well in short spurts all night. And he can often be heard shouting strategy all over the field.
At 80, Fred Molzahn is still making things happen on the soccer field. He’s in Vernon with the Okanagan 65+ Oldtimers for yet another 55+ B.C. (formerly Seniors) Games. There are 3,600 athletes in 27 sports.
“This is about my 15th Games,” said Molzahn, a Kelowna window company sales rep. “I think my first one was in Penticton. I’ve got two gold medals and a few silver and bronze, six medals. Soccer is my passion and I’ve met lots of great guys at these Games.”
Molzahn emigrated to Kelowna from Germany at age 14. He and his wife, Frankie, have four children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Frankie says Fred has a huge scrapbook of soccer articles from the Kelowna Daily Courier.
”He loves the game and I thought the old man would quit a few times but now I have no idea when he’ll stop playing. He’s still working full-time.”
Molzahn, who cheers for Bayern Munich, was a stalwart with the powerhouse Okanagan Valley Men’s League Willow Inn Kickers of the ’70s. He now plays regularly with the Brandt’s Creek Pub 55+s Thursday nights.
“Brandt’s Creek did a nice testimonial (day) for me and we had two full teams. It was a great day.”
Andy Miller, in Vernon with the Okanagan 60s, has played decades alongside Molzahn.
“In 1976 when I met him, I couldn’t believe he was 40,” said Miller, who helps run the Brandt’s Creek 55+ club. “Now, in 2017, he’s 80 and we still need him.”
Miller and friends from Brandt’s Creek held the testimonial game in Molzahn’s honour in late August at Beasley Park in Lake Country.
“It was a fantastic day with 60 or 70 people,” said Miller. “We divvied up the teams and Fred got on the scoreboard after a dubious penalty call. We told stories, some of them embellished. Four of five of the old Kickers like Dennis Zahara, Clare Patton and Rick Moore were there.”
Miller said the Pubbers have been trying to give Molzahn a soccer ball for his retirement for some time.
“Peter Butler bought an old Mitre ball three or four years ago that was supposed to be for Fred’s last year and the last ball has turned yellow,” laughed Miller.
Molzahn and the Okanagan Oldtimers shaded North Island (Zone 5) 2-1 and battled South Island to a scoreless draw in opening-day play at Marshall Field #5.
Gord McLaren of Kelowna took a nifty through ball from Vernon’s Denis Chabot and buried a 20-yarder for the winner with six minutes to play.
Ken Rath of Vernon and Willem Jonkman of North Island swapped first-half goals.
Fullback Harry Higginson of Summerland headed a dangerous cross off the line for the Okanagan seconds before the final whistle.
In 60s men’s play Wednesday, the Okanagan bowed 3-0 to the Victoria Strikers at Marshall Field#3.
Mike Walters (winner), Brian Porter and Peter Cavin scored for the Strikers, who had Kelowna’s JC Buratti in net.
Cavin, a partner in Country Grocers in Victoria, just turned 60 and has competed all over the planet for years.
In April, he helped the Vancouver Islanders defeat the Okanagan Kickers 2-0 in the men’s 55 soccer final at the Barfoot &Thompson World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand. On Wednesday, he was facing Jenne Huberts and Jim Sparrow of the Okanagan, as he did in New Zealand.
“It (Masters final) was a great game,” said Cavin. “We all had to play seven games to get to the final because one of the teams dropped out. So, instead of a two-pool tournament, it was a total playdowns.”
Cavin had previously played soccer in the World Masters in Italy and Australia. He was a basketball point guard at the 1998 Games in Portland.
A Vic High grad, Cavin is a father of two sons. He also played in 55+ B.C. Games in Vancouver and Burnaby.
In other soccer play Wednesday, the Okanagan 55s, a Kelowna entry, stuffed North Island 4-0 on two goals from Will Kruiper.
Women’s soccer is in the Games for the first time and the Okanagan Prime opened play by grounding the Island 5-2 on a hat-trick from Bonnie Kelly and a deuce from Wendy Stevens, both Vernon products.
In men’s 55+ hockey, the Okanagan Brewsers (Coldstream Truck Parts) were 1-1 after two days of competition.
Roadrunner Jeff Anderson scored twice as the Brewsers ambushed the Cranbrook Sentinels 6-2 Thursday morning at Priest Valley Arena.
Anderson and Wayne Brown supplied snipes as the Brewers bowed 4-2 to the Vancouver Zone 4 Warriors Wednesday.
Al Lidstone is in net for the Brewsers, who face Quesnel today, 3:30 at PV Arena.