Questions linger for youth soccer

Joey Payeur

It was a season of change to try and accommodate the changing seasons.
Fort Frances Youth Soccer ended its 2011 campaign on Saturday at the St. Francis Sportsfields with its annual wind-up for Divisions II-V (the wind-ups for the Squirts and Division 1 players took place earlier last week).
The season left outgoing FFYS president Sarah Gould with a positive feeling, but also with concerns about how well the organization’s switch to a mid-May start date—and subsequent end-of-July conclusion—was received by players and their families.
“We tried something new this year, and changed the format to start later in May and extend the season into July,” Gould said about the schedule shift, which was done partly to alleviate the challenges of starting the season in late April or early May given the often unco-operative weather at that time of year.
“The change was the result of a survey put out in 2010 to address the length of season,” Gould noted.
“The weather definitely co-operated and teams got an 11-week season,” she added. “Unfortunately, the downside to the changes was that our numbers were really down in July for some of the teams.
“It’s important for the board to get feedback from the players, parents, and community in regards to the season format,” Gould stressed.
“Now that we have had a trial year, the board must take everything into consideration and decide whether the pros favour continuing to try and change the mind frame of our soccer community to one of ‘summer soccer,’ or whether it would be best to revert back to the old season format or a modified version of it.”
Those wanting to leave feedback can do so on the league’s new website at fortfrancessoccer.ca or by e-mailing FFYS at fortfrancesyouthsoccer@gmail.com
Gould, meanwhile, described 2011 as “a good season, with a lot of great soccer being played.”
Registration numbers for players once again surpassed the 500 mark, coming in at roughly 510, which matched the totals for last year.
It was in the area of coaches and referees where the quantity of available bodies was a bit lacking—something Gould stressed needs to be addressed.
“In regards to coaches and assistant coaches, historically, we have struggled to get enough volunteers,” she noted. “It was the same for this year.
“I want to give a big thank-you to all the coaches. We had some great parents and youth step up and fill coaching spots.
“As for referees, we get a lot of our soccer players that also ref the mini-fields starting at age 11 and up,” Gould noted. “[But] we are always looking for people interested in obtaining their certification to ref full-field games.
“We could always use more people there.”
Tentative plans were in the works earlier in the season to hold a full-field referee certification clinic in Fort Frances, with a qualified official from Dryden possibly overseeing it.
But plans fell through due to time constraints and uncertainty about how many people were interested in taking the clinic, although the possibility exists it still could happen next year or some other time in the future.
Gould, who is leaving the FFYS board of directors after a lengthy tenure which included a five-year run as president, was grateful for the ongoing support she received during her time with the organization from her fellow board members.
“I am confident that FFYS is headed in the right direction for the future,” she remarked. “The board of directors is a good team and are great soccer representatives.
“I have had the pleasure of being the president over the past five years and, as I move out of my position, I don’t think twice about saying that I will miss being part of the great soccer community in the Rainy River District.”
The board of directors will hold a meeting at a later date to address the issue of replacing Gould as president.