Getting the ball rolling for Barrhead soccer
Although soccer has long been the world’s most popular sport, nobody it seems passed on the news to Barrhead. Or the rest of Canada for that matter.
In a land where ice hockey is king, the so-called beautiful game has struggled to capture the imagination.
Finally, however, the ball has started rolling for Barrhead’s soccer scene, where there is just one league.
Each year a committed group of parents – who make up a board of six to 10 members – and about 40 volunteer coaches organize games on Monday and Wednesday evenings in May and June.
“We seem to add about five to 10 players every year,” said one of the organizers Mike Nanninga.
This year between 250 and 260 kids laced up their boots and ran out on to the Barrhead Composite High School grounds, Cecil Martin Park and the field by the United Church to chase down balls, dribble, tackle and shoot for glory.
In each age group there are four to ten teams that play each other.
“Everyone stays in Barrhead,” said Nanninga. “There is no travelling.”
The teams go by such names as Germany, Brazil and Argentina, countries that are international soccer powerhouses.
To a young mind, perhaps the association with such sporting excellence can be an inspiration.
Germany coach Cindy VandeRiet has been a vocal figure on the touchlines this year, urging on her team. Recently her players lost a hard-fought encounter against Brazil, before bouncing back with victory over Argentina.
Both games – which saw boys competing with girls – were played at the high school where the fields have no nets or white lines marking the boundaries. Instead the teams have to use their own markers.
There is a danger that the absence of nets can lead to disagreement over whether a goal was scored.
“We would love to get nets and white lines,” said VandeRiet.
June 25 is a big date in the soccer calendar: it is the wind-up of an all too short season. The IGA will be providing hotdogs.
No trophies will be handed out, only expressions of quiet optimism about the state of soccer in Barrhead.
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