This weekend, First Nations soccer players of all ages will take to Ladysmith fields, as the Stz’uminus First Nation hosts the first of what will become a major annual soccer tournament.
The Stz’uminus First Annual Soccer Tournament will be held June 29 to July 1 and will feature play by youth teams from U5 up to U14 and men’s and women’s teams.
The tournament will be held at various soccer fields in Ladysmith, including Forrest Field, the field at the Frank Jameson Community Centre and all three schools.
Youth teams from U5 to U14 will be competing, as well as men’s and women’s teams.
Stz’uminus Soccer director Tim Harris says 14 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams have already confirmed, and they could see up to 900 athletes of First Nation descent at the tournament.
Teams are coming from the Squamish Nation and from Chilliwack, Alert Bay, Saanich and Victoria.
The Stz’uminus First Annual Soccer Tournament will take place all day Friday and Saturday, and the men’s and women’s finals will take place Sunday afternoon. The women’s final will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Forrest Field, and the men’s final will follow at 3 p.m.
Following the final, there will be trophy presentations and speeches by Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott and Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins.
Harris says the Stz’uminus First Nation community wanted to host the tournament to become part of the First Nations soccer circuit and to promote healthy living and fun.
“There are lots of tournaments, and we want to get into [the circuit] and promote our community and our reserve,” he said. “We’re trying to promote healthy living.”
Harris says there are all kinds of soccer tournaments from about Easter until July, and they are mostly all First Nations.
“It’s not a knock of saying no white people; it’s more saying this is our event, and this is something we’re proud of,” he said. “We’re trying to hang on to some of the traditions we do have.”
The soccer tournament will be an annual event hosted by the Stz’uminus First Nation.
“I think our tournament’s only going to grow from year to year,” said Harris.
Organizers of the Stz’uminus First Annual Soccer Tournament are still looking for financial donations or any type of donations that could help a soccer tournament, as well as volunteers, and anyone who is able to help can contact Tim Harris at 250-245-0969.
Harris thanks everybody for all the support they have received so far.