It has been said that if you build it, they will come.
With a 33-per-cent increase in players this season and the introduction of new programs and four brand-new rep teams, the Mid-Isle Soccer Club (MSC) is well on its way to building a thriving soccer community in Ladysmith.
According to club vice-president Mike Rankin, the 415 Ladysmith and Cedar players now registered with MSC this season (up more than 100 players from last year) represent approximately five per cent of the total population of the area.
“Compared to Nanaimo, which has 1,600 players out of a population of 100,000 [1.6 per cent], we’re turning into Soccer Town B.C.!” he said.
Rankin said new board directors, new programs and a re-vamped club website are just some of the exciting changes.
“We’ve taken the success of the Mini World Cup and are running with it for the season,” he said. “We’re boldly going where no man has gone before.”
That includes the four brand-new tier three teams who will be the first Mid-Isle players to compete in the Upper Island Soccer Association (UISA) league.
Sporting black jerseys, the MSC Highlanders teams are U13 (girls/boys) and U15 (girls/boys). Three out of those four teams won their first games of the season last weekend.
“This UISA league plays against Port Alberni and Comox and Campbell River and Powell River,” Rankin explained. “It’s the next step up of competition for our players because they’ve never had that opportunity before.
In addition to regular season play, teams will participate in the Upper Island “B-Cup Playdowns” and the Provincial Cup.
“It’s exciting because they’re going to all these different places and representing Ladysmith and Mid-Isle Soccer.”
The Mini-World Cup, held in May, brought almost 1,000 young soccer players to Ladysmith for a weekend of soccer games, festivities and fun. Rankin said it was the kickstart the club needed to start answering the needs of what parents and players have been asking for the past several years, such as a soccer tots program for three- and four-year-olds on Saturday mornings, which is already full for the fall intake. Visit the club website to find out more or register for the winter season.
“We found that there were a lot of kids that are coming to the field with their parents on Saturday mornings, and they’re just standing there not doing anything, so we thought we would get them going,” Rankin said.
Mid-Isle Soccer Club held its official season kickoff Sept. 10 at Forrest Field to a crowd of more than 400 people.
On Sept. 22, the MSC house league teams, also collectively known as the Blue Army, will see their first action on the field when their season gets underway.
“We are very excited about the upcoming season,” Rankin said.
The Mid-Isle Soccer Club also has eight players who have been accepted onto the Vancouver Island Premiere League’s Upper Island Storm teams.
Those players are: Georgia Nicholls (U14 girls), Emma Wallace-Tarry (U14 girls), Annica Crosby (U14 girls), Josh Buffie (U14 boys), David Rankin (U15 boys), Katelyn Horsley (U16 girls), Aliyah Griffin (U16 girls), and Rory Anderson (U16 boys).
To learn more about upcoming games or put the heart of Ladysmith-Cedar’s soccer community at your fingertips, visit the Mid-Isle Soccer Club’s website.