The fields are dry and the Woolwich Youth Soccer season is kicking off.
Officially in full swing last week, rep and house league players are taking to the pitches around the township.
“It has been a good start. We were delayed a week because of the weather, but as of last Monday night, we were going full swing,” said Woolwich Youth Soccer Club president Steve Sider, adding that registration has been strong for the 2017 season. “We have been pretty consistent over the last couple of years, so this year, we are at about 1,100 registered players this year. There are about 200 at the rep level and about 900 house league players. When you think about the size of Woolwich, it is a massive number of players.”
Teams from the league won many tournaments last year, including the U14 boys taking the gold in Ancaster last June, U15 boys gold in Ottawa and the U16 girls winning silver at the Ontario Cup and gold at the Tournament of Champions.
Sider says he thinks the boys and girls on the rep squads this year can repeat last year’s success.
“The rep teams are really for those kids that are looking to take what they would be doing in house league and take it to another level. In many cases, practicing a couple times a week, traveling to different tournaments, and in some cases, like our U16 girls’ rep team, who have been one of the best teams in Canada for a while, will travel into the United States, and around Ontario. There is that higher level of play,” he said. “I know a number of our rep teams are going to have a good showing at different tournaments around the province. I can’t even remember how many tournaments we won last year, but I am thinking that we will probably be in the same category this year.”
Although the season has just begun, the soccer club is already looking ahead to two of the biggest summer events in Woolwich – the Woolwich Invitational tournament in August and an open house/festival event for the league’s house league teams in June.
“Our Woolwich Invitational, we use fields across the township and some in St. Clements as well. The tournament brings nearly 100 rep teams from across Ontario and I think we have somewhere around 5,000-plus people coming into the community. It is a big deal again this year,” said Sider.
He says the game is all about bringing people together, and creating a community for summer sports in the township.
“I think one of our focal areas is to continue develop a passion for the game, seeing kids develop leadership skills and community. Community is what it is all about. You go to St. Teresa or Breslau or St. Clements on any given night, and you can see a couple hundred kids out there playing and family members,” said Sider.“We always hope for lovely summer nights, and just to see the kids having fun. It is remarkable to me how sports in general brings the community together, with parents and guardians chatting and coming together.”
Throughout the summer and into the fall, the season is built on volunteers and it wouldn’t happen without the hours put in by the dozens of people who show up for games, tournaments and work behind the scenes.
“I don’t even know if we can put a number of the volunteers that get involved. It really is a team effort,” he said, adding that they could still always use more people getting involved. “We are always looking for more, though. Especially around tournament time in August and festival time in June. We need lots of people to make that happen.”
Anyone who wants to help out are welcome to call the club office at 519-669-1000. Sider says there is always something to do.