Eric Harder brings experience and positivity to struggling Rebels team

By Riley Malinowski

Striker Eric Harder walks off the field after the Rebels’ 8-0 defeat at the hands of Canadian Mennonite University. The loss drops the Rebels record to 2-0-5 on the season./RILEY MALINOWSKI

Eric Harder’s mother signed him up for a recreational soccer league in Riverton, Manitoba when he was four years old. Twenty-two years later and the striker is still playing the game he loves.

“She said that she never taught me how to play, she just signed me up and told me to do what all the other kids were doing,” said the 26-year-old.

Harder played soccer in Riverton for the majority of his life until he enrolled in the Carpenter Apprenticeship program at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon. He played soccer at ACC during his first year of school before transferring to Red River College. 

Harder said he figured he would continue to play while studying at RRC and decided to try out for the Rebels men’s soccer team. 

After his first year with the Rebels, and second year playing in the MCAC, Harder took a year off from school. 

He returned to the team this fall. As a third-year player, the Rebels rely on Harder to provide much of the team’s offense. Harder leads the team in scoring with four goals in the team’s seven matches so far. 

Harder wards off CMU defenders during the second half on Saturday. The 26-year-old carpentry apprentice has one more year remaining at Red River College after this season./RILEY MALINOWSKI

In addition to scoring, Harder is also a leader off the field.

“He always brings a positive attitude, and a great work ethic. It honestly seems like he never gets tired out there,” said 23-year-old teammate Bailey Mulhall. “He’s really smart too on the field. A few of his goals (this season), he was just in the right position on the field and doing his job.” 

Harder has two years of eligibility left, but only has one more year of school. He expects next year to be his final season with the Rebels but said he doesn’t expect to stop playing soccer anytime soon.

“I might not play competitively when I’m older, but I’d always like to enjoy playing it, pretty much forever,” said Harder. 

The Rebels currently own a record of 2-0-5, good for fifth place in the six-team league.They have to win all three of their remaining games to have a chance to make the playoffs. 

Harder plans to get into the house-flipping business after graduation, but while the veteran striker finishes his carpentry apprenticeship next year, the team will rely on his skill and leadership for one final season.