On May 23, the executive board of the Mid-Isle Soccer Association voted to formally appoint Bill Merriman as its official technical director. Additionally, Merriman’s Highlander Academy is also formally affiliated with Mid-Isle Soccer.
“Bill has been a friend and supporter of Mid-Isle Soccer for years”, said Mid-Isle vice-president Mike Rankin.“We knew our first priority was to clarify our current relationship and come to a mutual understanding of what we want to accomplish together going forward.”
As a paid employee of the association, Merriman’s official mandate is to “promote the ongoing development of Mid-Isle soccer players.” This means a continuation of the Monday night development sessions that have been so popular in the last couple of years, but also a new list of responsibilities — the first of which is player assessments.
“No one on this executive board has the credentials to decide whether or not a player should ‘play up’ an age group, or possibly try out for one of the competitive leagues,” said Rankin. “But Bill is a highly-respected coach with a lot of years in the game, and he has specific criteria to determine a player’s potential. So those decisions will be his responsibility.”
Additionally, Merriman’s focus will be on the formation of competitive teams to play for Mid-Isle.
Merriman is the head coach of the VIU soccer program and has led that team to provincial and national championships in recent years. Merriman himself has been both a provincial and national Coach of the Year.
The Mid-Isle Soccer Association is also pleased to announce the formation of girls-only teams at the Pony “B” level (U8-U9) for the upcoming 2012-13 season.
“Parents have been telling us that this is what they want — Nanaimo has been playing with gender-split teams for years, and it’s time Mid-Isle joined the party”, said Mid-Isle president Willow Hartig.
Negotiations are underway with Nanaimo Soccer to have the U8-U9 Mid-Isle teams play against Nanaimo House League girls teams in the upcoming season. Alternately, the U8-9 girls and boys will continue to play within Ladysmith, and possibly Gabriola.