The Kamloops Youth Soccer Association’s (KYSA) president, Graham Cope, and head coach, Tom McManus, recently sat down for an interview with KTW.
Among the topics of discussion were registration numbers, the Vancouver Whitecaps as they relate to soccer in Kamloops and extending the KYSA season.
- Footy flourishing in Tournament Capital
Youth hockey registration numbers across the country might be projected to decline in the coming years but, if Kamloops’ numbers are any indication, soccer seems to be doing just fine.
The KYSA will boast about 250 teams and about 3,500 players this season. Those numbers are up slightly from last season.
House league registration fees increased by $10 (to $170 from $160 last year), while rep registration fees are the same as last year ($475).
Registration fees increased drastically in 2010. House league fees went from $135 in 2009 to $155 in 2010; rep fees from $275 to $475.
The increases, Liddiard told KTW last April, covered deficits created by years of stagnant fees, the rising cost of equipment and the cost of practice time at the Kamloops Soccer Dome.
Attracting players has not been a problem for the KYSA. Getting coaches to sign on the dotted line, on the other hand, has not been as easy.
A February press release from KYSA executive director Keith Liddiard said finding parent volunteers to coach house league teams is one of the association’s biggest challenges.
It’s a challenge the KYSA has been able to meet this season, as there were no teams without a coach as of Monday, April 4, McManus said.
Anyone interested in coaching or volunteeting in other ways can call the KYSA at 250-376-2750.
- Whitecaps to pique Kamloops’ interest
It’s tough to predict how much effect the Vancouver Whitecaps’ jump to Major League Soccer will have on soccer in communities across the province.
But, one thing’s for sure — the Blue and White’s increasing popularity can’t hurt the Beautiful Game in beautiful B.C.
“The effect of that is it’s making it much clearer for players in the Interior if they want to play for the Whitecaps,” Cope said. “They know how to get there.”
The Whitecaps have the potential to be the carrot dangling in front of young soccer players’ eyes — on national television, no less — and the recent introduction of the B.C. Soccer Premier League (BCSPL) will act as a stepping stone to that proverbial vegetable.
The BCSPL will feature eight franchises — Abbotsford, Burnaby/North Shore, Coquitlam, Vancouver Island, South Fraser, Surrey, Vancouver and Thompson-Okanagan — when the league’s pilot mini-season kicks off this fall. The first full season is scheduled to get underway in the spring of 2012.
“The purpose of that league is to create a pool of players that the Whitecaps can draw on and also a pool of players for our provincial and national teams,” Cope said.
The league will have under-14, -15, -16, and -17/18 divisions.
Cope said players from Kamloops will be able to set clear goals on their paths to soccer success.
“They need to get into the rep program in their community. They need to get onto our regional B.C. premier league team — Thompson-Okanagan FC.
“From there, they’ll get exposure to the Whitecaps’ academy and reserves as well as provincial teams.”
- Longer seasons will mean more success
The KYSA’s president pulled no punches when talking about the length of soccer season in Kamloops.
“If Kamloops and the Thompson-Okanagan is to be competitive with the west coast, we need to extend our season beyond the current April through June,” Cope said.
“It’s simply too short to develop quality players.”
McManus, whose job description includes developing high-quality talent, agreed with Cope’s assessment.
“They’re not getting the competition, being in a two-month program,” he said “We need a longer season. We have to have it. It’s the way it is in the rest of the country and we have to catch up.”
So, why is the Thompson-Okanagan Youth Soccer League (TOYSL) season so short?
Cope said it’s mostly down to membership’s lack of commitment.
“There’s this funny thing in the Interior where everybody says, ‘We can’t play soccer in the summer because we all go to the lake.’” Cope said.
“That’s not true. We all don’t go to the lake on the same weekend.
“It’s just a matter of changing the parent mindset. Your child’s in rep now. You need to make a bigger commitment to the sport if you want your child to succeed.”
The TOYSL’s powers that be, Cope said, will likely be extending soccer season in the near future.
“In the next year or so, we’ll see that happen,” Cope said.
“It’s just a matter of going back to our membership and convincing them that if you want your child to improve as a soccer player, this is what we need to do and you have to buy into it.”