According to some, soccer — also known as football in some circles — is the most popular sport in the world. It doesn’t take much more than some kind of roundish object, a bit of space and some interested participants.
Throw in some shoes, some shirts and a few numbers and we can make it into quite a game.
In the past, as with many sports, it was mainly a boys and men’s activity but these days, especially in the local area, it has become one of the most popular sports for girls and women.
This weekend, the BC Soccer Northern Playdown competition for females comes to the Smithers area.
Spokesperson Tamara Gillis indicates that Smithers will be hosting the female side while Terrace will host the males.
Gillis says that 10 teams will be coming to compete in the under 13 to under 16 categories, which will be used to select teams who move on to the provincial level.
Smithers will have entries in the under 13 and under 16 brackets.
“I’m sure we are going to do great,” said Gillis.
“Soccer has become a very popular activity for young girls in the Smithers area. Interestingly enough, at the 12-14 age bracket, about half of the participants are girls. Quite often, the girls numbers will start to drop off in that category but locally, the girls are dominating,” she said.
While Gillis feels that it is hard to come up with simple reasons why, it may be social because of the fact that you can participate with your friends in a group setting.
“It’s a team sport. It has such a short intense season so that means you get to know your team well. I think that with soccer you can pick up on the basic skills fairly quickly with just a bit of practice. You don’t need a lot — just cleats and a ball. And if you choose to you can work on it, you will get better,” she said.
She also feels that the team aspect is good since there are always different players on teams and they work together to balance out strengths and skills.
According to Gillis, the Smithers teams are not all-star teams.
“They are groups of girls who like to play. There were select tryouts and the players had to be willing to commit to going on to the provincial finals if they won at the regional level,” she said.
Gillis feels that the future for girl’s soccer in the area is encouraging.
“Right now we have a very strong girls development group starting at U10. House league soccer is mixed but if they choose to play for select teams they get to practice once a week with just girls. The select teams are boys only or girls only. For a small town, in particular, it makes more sense to have mixed house league in order to have more teams and then the opportunity to have the gender select teams for those who want to,” she said.
Recently, a number of girls have gone on to university play, and the girls team at Smithers Secondary high school competed at the AA high school provincial championships this past weekend where they finished 12th overall in the final standings.
Games will be played at Chandler Park Fields. Competition will commence at 8:30 on Saturday.