Soccer prospects building skills

Again this season, about 1,600 soccer players have registered in Harbour City Football Club's various age groups for boys and girls.

There was beautiful weather last weekend and plenty of excitement in the air to go along with it, as another local youth soccer season is underway.

Certainly there was a carnival atmosphere last Saturday at the Gyro Youth Sports Fields located at Beban Park. Hundreds of young players were involved in matches, amidst colourful banners, music and displays involving police cars and fire trucks. Not to mention a referees’ clinic that had a large group of aspiring young officials practising their whistle blowing!

It has been a year since youth soccer in Nanaimo was rebranded as Harbour City Football Club, but the change in name hasn’t impacted the large numbers of players signing up. Again this season, about 1,600 have registered in the various age groups for boys and girls.

Elections last spring brought new faces to the club’s Board of Directors. Taking over as president this year is Ian Johnson, with Scott Saywell the vice president. Club secretary is Adrian Collery and treasurer is Jameel Sayani. Jason Kozubal is the equipment manager, Erick Groot is the registrar, Gunnar Myhrer coordinates volunteers and Tony Ciammaichella is the health and safety officer. Coordinator for the U6-U10 age divisions is Bobbie Taylor, while Tony Zuccaro coordinates the U11-U18 divisions.

Returning to HCFC as technical director is Claude Bolton, who leads the club’s player development centre and academy. The emphasis is on developing skills for young players and increasing participation in the sport while still offering a place for more talented players to shine.

For beginning players, fun and skill development comes with what is termed ìsmall sidedî games. There was a time when even the youngest players in Nanaimo soccer played on 11-aside teams on full-sized fields. That changed in the 1970’s, when Bob Arnold, Bill Morris and myself led the start of the Pony League concept of 7-aside teams on smaller fields. The benefits of the concept were gradually recognized and the program has continued to evolve since that time. Now it is usually called mini soccer, accepted as a fun and developmentally appropriate environment for young players which gives them more touches on the ball and more exciting games. It is the basis for HCFC’s young player development.

This season, Saturdays at Beban fields sees 13 teams at the U6 age level playing 3-aside games on small fields with no goal keepers. Another 15 U7 teams and 15 U8 teams play 4-aside, also without goal keepers. There are 10 teams of U9 players and 15 at the U10 level, who take the next step by playing 6-aside games that introduce the position of goal keeper. At each of these mini levels, the youngsters play in double-sided games, meaning that they are actually involved in two games at once on adjacent fields. There’s never a dull moment!

Now, the small-sided concept has again been expanded. This year, U11 to U14 players will play an 8 vs 8 format, again designed to allow players more chances to touch the ball. These matches will be played mainly at the Beban artificial turf fields and will include an interlocking schedule with house teams from Mid Isle, Oceanside and Gabriola clubs.

On Sunday, the older players take to the soccer pitch. Harbour City FC has a number of U15 ñU18 boys’ and girls’ house teams that represent the club in the Tier 3 Upper Island League. These teams compete against competition from Mid Isle, Oceanside, Powell River, Port Alberni and Campbell River. Some of the matches are on the newly refurbished Bowen West field, which garnered plenty of positive reviews last weekend.

In addition to the above teams, there are also five clubs including Harbour City which have players competing on teams in the Vancouver Island Premier League. This is the opportunity for more talented older players to gain experience at a higher level of competition.

The youth soccer season runs through until the start of March, with players usually involved in one game and at least one practice each week. During December and January the younger divisions of mini soccer move their games inside local gyms.

Of course a bit or rain and wind is all part of the soccer experience and my feeling is that players don’t mind it nearly as much as the spectators huddled on the sidelines. That said, we’ll hope for plenty of mild Saturdays for the hordes of enthusiastic young players having fun and learning skills on the Gyro Sports Fields at Beban Park. Check them out to see what I mean!

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read