Soccer made its return to 100 Mile House last week.
On a hot Thursday afternoon, members of the 100 Mile House Soccer Association played against each other for the first time in over a year. President Werner Heine said they were caught by surprise at how fast they were able to return to play, which meant he had to referee one of the games.
“It caught us a little bit off guard because we had to reline the fields. We had the field lined for social distancing boxes so they had to grow out and now we have the fields. We have three different sizes for the age groups so we had to get on the hind legs to do that,” Heine said. “The referee training was also not being done, because of the limitations we had, so we’re short refs. But we can make it work.”
BC Soccer moved into its second phase of reopening last week following the widespread relaxation of COVID-19 health protocols. Heine said the news was welcomed, as he’d told the Free Press previously he hadn’t expected any games at all this season.
“It’s great, that’s what soccer is all about. You want to have a game. For a month now we were doing skill development, which is also good; however, the carrot at the end is always the game.”
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Nigel Swann, 18, a longtime member of the association who has stepped up to coach the U-14 to U-18 team this year, said he was pleased to see soccer resume.
“This soccer season has been different. The player count has definitely been down since COVID but seeing how most of our dedicated players are still here and we have some new players, it’s nice to see that motivation to play soccer is still there,” Swann said.
He said the players were eager to get back out on the field and have some fun. Swann observed that most of the U14 to U18 players are playing more casually than usual. Showing off their skills and competing against one another, however, is an important part of the experience.
Player Rachel Sikiric said it was a lot of fun to be back on the field. “It was weird, very weird (to be off for a year). Usually, we spend our summers down here so it was quite different,” she said. “Everyone wanted to play games and we were all happy when we were allowed to.”
Although playing soccer is back on, there are still restrictions. Spectators are still not allowed, teams can’t compete against other clubs and only 50 people are allowed per full-sized field. With the size of 100 Mile House’s soccer fields, Heine said this last restriction is not an issue.
Soccer season will continue until the end of the school year before resuming for a month in September.