Deer Lake Minor Soccer Association is focused on building a program catering to guys and girls in the U15 age bracket this year.
The first step in trying to build a program for players born in 2003 or later is a series of open workouts — the first one is scheduled for Nicholsville Field today from 4-5:30 p.m. — to gauge interest in Deer Lake and nearby communities.
Stephen Whalen, technical director for the association, believes growing the numbers in the U15 age group is something that he believes will bode well for not only his association but other associations in the western region which don’t have representation in provincial youth soccer leagues.
Whalen, a teacher at Xavier Junior High in Deer Lake, had a group of junior high students from his school kicking the ball around in the gym over the winter months and interest was pretty good.
However, he admits the numbers weren’t consistent because he believes it was hard to compete with other sports like hockey.
Then he had a conversation with Corner Brook minor soccer director of coaching Doug Sweetapple about the possibility of getting a junior high soccer tournament going and that fell into place a couple of weeks ago with Xavier represented.
Whalen believes there are enough players to form a U15 team in Deer Lake. Ideally, he said, it would be great to form a male and female team, but a mixed squad would be welcome just as much because he wants to see soccer grow on the west coast.
Holding open workouts to find out how many youth would embrace the chance to play in a regional concept that would hopefully culminate with a year-end tournament similar to the junior high spring tournament is the plan moving forward.
Players who buy into the concept will have to be registered with the Deer Lake minor soccer program, but for the open workouts Whalen is leaving it wide open for any boy or girl to play because it’s a great way to recruit players with hopes of them sticking with the sport.
“We want to get more kids out on the field in the summertime … off the computers and Xboxes,” he said. “Get more physically active and encourage the growth of the sport in the area. Globally, it’s the most played sport, except for here in Newfoundland.”