Despite a number of challenges, 2017 was a very successful year for youth soccer in the Bulkley Valley (BVSS).
Healthy, affordable outdoor fun was enjoyed by 871 children playing on 63 house league and four select teams. The academy program coached by Dan Imhof was expanded and a mentorship program for young officials was initiated by our referee coordinator Cindy Thummerer. BC Soccer delivered goalkeeper clinics in all our communities and the U17 select boys team coached by Miro Kosalko and Barry Finnegan played in the men’s league, won the U17 Northern Cup and competed at provincials.
One of main challenges in 2017 was field closures due to frost kill on school fields and gaps in sod laid the previous year at Chandler. Field closure required part of our program to be switched from Smithers to Telkwa. Many of the school district fields were closed all summer and weeds growth in the gaps and on areas of dead sod will be a future problem. Repairs to the 2016 work and creating a third field, the final stage of the work at Chandler, was scheduled for 2017 but with the exception of the perimeter fence was delayed until 2018. Construction of a perimeter fence, partly paid for by BVSS, brings fencing at Chandler up to the standard of other Smithers sporting facilities.
Another obstacle is the perennial challenge in providing services for a huge number of children. BVSS is fortunate to have a large number of dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers (e.g. over 130 coaches), but enabling the volunteers and making tasks manageable remains a challenge. BVSS made several improvements in 2017 that it hopes will enable volunteers and ease their load. These included updating our bylaws, electronic player registration, external fundraising and creation of a handbook of policies and procedures that provides more clarity on the details and timelines for key tasks.
Fortunately BVSS serves so many children; but unfortunately this leaves little or no spare time to apply for the external grants that sustain other recreational and cultural groups. As a result, on a dollar per child basis, BVSS lags far behind other local recreational and cultural groups. There is still much to do but BVSS secured its first BC Gaming Grant in 2016-2017 and a $10,000 2017 grant from Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation, which helped pay for the fence around Chandler.
That was a synopsis of last year. In 2018, BVSS is looking forward to use of the second Chandler field, which is now level and has irrigation; construction of a third Chandler field, which will greatly improve field quality and use; opening registration in February to hopefully reduce late registration (keep an eye on the BVSS website and Facebook page in February); hosting the girl’s portion of the Northern Cup; and benefiting from 2017 improvements to policies and procedures.
Again thanks to all those who helped with youth soccer in the Bulkley Valley in 2017. Thanks to BC Gaming Grant, Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation, and staff at the Town of Smithers, the Village of Telkwa and SD54. We look forward to another great year in 2018. Finally if you want to help out, there are still a couple of openings on the board replacing board members who finished their terms.
– Submitted by BVSS.