Werner Heine lives and breathes soccer.
The president of the 100 Mile House and District Soccer Association has been involved in the sport for most of his life. He started playing recreational soccer before he jumped into coaching his three children in Alberta and later, in 1998, in 100 Mile House.
When his kids grew up and left town, Werner kept going with the club. “I just stayed with it. I just like doing it.”
In the early days, soccer was played on fields throughout the area, including 100 Mile and Mile 108 elementary schools, Peter Skene Ogden Secondary and the former 100 Mile Junior Secondary. The situation, along with the fact there were no washroom facilities for the kids because the schools were closed, led to discussions by the association to build a soccer park.
“It was scattered all over the place,” Heine said. “Which made it very difficult for parents if they had kids of different age groups. They were basically just driving around town, dropping kids off so they couldn’t really watch the kids play.
“That all drove us to think about building a soccer park here.”
He noted they were further inspired after seeing other communities’ soccer fields. He said it took about five years of fundraising to build the park which started with two fields in 2010. They added another two fields and a clubhouse and equipment garage the following year, providing “everything we need,” Heine said. Altogether, the association raised 1.4 million dollars to build the soccer park.
Heine credited volunteers for getting the work done, saying it was his personal goal to build the park in time so that one of his three kids could play soccer on the new fields. His son Thomas played at the soccer park in his last year of soccer in 2010. In 2011, they hosted the soccer provincials, which was another highlight.
“I love to do it,” he said, adding his main role was fundraising before he began coaching the kids and then the referees, which he continues to do today.
“It was my mission.”
Heine, who recently became president of the soccer association, said it’s a big responsibility. He spends, on average, four hours a day on soccer – whether it be scheduling referees, emails from the BC Soccer Association and implementing their procedures, or just regular stuff with the teams. While this year there are about 240 kids, about 340 kids had signed up pre-pandemic.
“If something goes wrong, that’s where it goes,” he said. “But the president usually has a lot of support people around him. You just have to make sure that stuff gets done.”
He said he has someone in the wings to take over coordinating referees next year and is appealing for more volunteers to come on board. With higher player numbers expected next year, he said he could use more people to help out, especially as referees.
“We need more teams. We need more everything,” he said, “which means more work, which means more people to share it with. So that’s what we want to do.”
Eventually, he would like to hand over the reins.
“I would like to see a younger person being the president, somebody who maybe has kids in soccer, that has maybe a vision of how they want it to be for their kids. I’m yesterday’s story, and it would be more beneficial if it was somebody younger,” he said.
But right now, “It’s what I love. Not only soccer, but I like the kids getting outside, getting activity and seeing them excel. And hopefully, they keep playing soccer later on, in university or wherever they go.”