Monday, August 3, 2015

Youth soccer in dire need of coaches

Necessity has forced Fort Frances Youth Soccer to turn back the clock.
At its annual general meeting earlier this month, the FFYS decided the number of players accepted to play this season in each of the six age divisions will be in direct correlation to the number of available coaches.

“For example, if Division 2 only has four coaches volunteer and with the maximum number on each Division 2 team usually set at 15, that means we won’t be able to take any more kids in that division after the first 60,” explained FFYS secretary Catherine McGuire.
“It was done that way about 15-20 years ago and probably before that,” she noted.
“We need volunteers to coach,” McGuire stressed.
“I know there are people moving out of the community and there are less students at the high school than in years past,” she conceded.
“But it’s a fun time to be had with the kids and is good physical activity.
“Plus for the high-schoolers, it helps them get their community hours they need to graduate,” she added.
McGuire said referees aged 12 and up also are required.
FFYS president Dave Berry resigned this past off-season due to the fact the last of his children graduated from the minor soccer ranks.
With nobody else on the board of directors or in the community stepping up to fill the role, and with no vice-president in place, the FFYS board of nine full-time members and three honourary ones has agreed to make all decisions and handle all duties as a co-operative unit this season.
“We wanted youth soccer to run so we were willing to go this way,” noted McGuire.
“Enough of us have been there long enough that we’re a pretty well-oiled machine at this point and know what has to get done,” she said.
But that also means what lately has been an annual tradition of the last-minute hunt for enough coaches to staff the usual number of teams in each division isn’t an option.
“Nothing is worse than having to call 50 people one day before the season to try and get enough coaches,” stressed McGuire.
“We would like to have all our coaches in place by the end of February, although we certainly won’t turn down anyone who wants to sign on to coach at our registration nights [March 4-6 from 6-8 p.m. at the Memorial Sports Centre].”
The FFYS season is slated to begin the week of April 28, with the same divisions being assigned the same game nights as last year.
In another nod to the past, the wind-up for Divisions 2-5 will be held on June 21, with the Squirts and Division 1 holding their wind-ups during the week prior.
Unlike last year, no games will be played in the week following the wind-ups.
There also is no guarantee of a late-registration night, either, as has been the case in previous years.
“We can’t guarantee that if we don’t have enough coaches for the kids,” McGuire reiterated.
“There’s so much to do behind the scenes that people don’t realize,” she noted. “We can’t do it all one week before the season starts.
“It’s not like we can wave a magic wand and, poof, everything’s done.”
In related news, local youth players will get a chance to polish their skills at a camp put on by the Thunder Bay Chill here.
It will be held sometime in April (the date hasn’t been finalized yet).
McGuire noted the FFYS is helping the camp by booking the Townshend Theatre and putting up promotional posters, but nothing else.
As such, those interested in the camp will have to register at the Chill website (
The deadline is two weeks before the camp, which is open to players aged six-15.
Looking down the road, McGuire said the future of FFYS squarely is in the hands of the community.
“We need volunteers to keep the sport going into future years,” she stressed.

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