BY IAN THORPE
Soccer at various levels is holding its own on the sports pages right now and our main local organization is readying for a busy fall season…
Feeling comfortable despite the challenges of COVID is the Nanaimo United Football Club, the umbrella organization for youth and senior soccer in the area. Registration is now open for the fall season which gets underway this month for all age groups.
Governance oversight for the organization is provided by a board of directors headed up by president Michael Wassermann and vice-president Jessica Kirby. A strong staff contingent lead the various programs. Jason Coates is executive director, Daragh Fitzgerald is technical lead and Reid Davidson the administrative lead. Other leads include Jade Richardson, Cara Dunlop, Daniel De Wet, Geoff Hackett, Bobbie Taylor, Kevin Lindo and Ross Cameron is head referee.
The primary Nanaimo United youth program is the Central Island Soccer League for athletes ages U4-U18 from the Nanaimo, Gabriola, Mid Isle and Oceanside areas. Within that age spectrum is a variety of Tier 3 club system levels for players to learn the game in a safe and fun environment. Things start with the U4-U6 Happy Cleats program which uses station-based activities as an introduction to the sport, leading to small three-versus-three games at the U6 age. Registration fee is $225. For U7-U8 players, there are boys’ and girls’ teams with practice nights and Saturday mini-games, with an emphasis on mastering skills. Registration is $276 and games are four-versus-four with no goalies.
The focus on technique continues in the U9-U10 divisions with a fee of $312 and the U11-U13 groups with a registration cost of $334. For U9-U10, play is six-versus-six with goalies and for U11 and older games are eight-versus-eight with goalies. The U14-U18 age groups introduce the tactical side of the game as skills develop. Registration fee is $334 for these Tier 3 teams. At all levels, coaching is by parent volunteers and games are played on Saturdays, mainly at Beban Park. The Happy Cleats program runs for 10 weeks, while the older divisions have a fall-winter season lasting until March, wrapping up with a year-end tournament.
At U12 and older there is an opportunity for keen and committed players to play Tier 2 rep soccer. This is a more competitive level of play which involves more training, travel and a higher level of competition. U12-U13 play eight-versus-eight with goalies and U14-U18 play full 11-versus-11 with goalies. There are two training sessions each week and a game on Sundays.
At the Tier 1 level, Nanaimo United players are eligible to try out for the B.C. Soccer Premier League, the top competitive level of soccer for youths which is run out of Victoria and involves Vancouver Island Wave teams.
Nanaimo United also co-ordinates adult soccer in our area. Men’s teams in various competitive divisions traditionally compete in the Vancouver Island Soccer League, while United women’s teams take part in the Lower Island Women’s Soccer Association. As with youths, the adult leagues run September until March.
Nanaimo United headquarters is in the Lions Pavilion at Beban Park and the club can be reached at 250-729-9400. Information on programs and registration can be found at www.nanaimounitedfc.com.
Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.