It keeps on growing, and this year’s Stz’uminus Second Annual Soccer Tournament is being hailed as another success.
Eight women’s teams and 10 men’s teams from all over Vancouver Island and from the Mainland took part in the tournament, which took place June 29-July 1 on various fields around Ladysmith. As well, about 25 youth teams participated in the tournament, with players ranging in age from five to 14.
Stz’uminus won the seven-and-under youth championship, while Alert Bay won the 10-and-under championship, and the Squamish Nation Thunder won both the 12-and-under and the 14-and-under titles.
The men’s and women’s finals were both a repeat of last year’s final. The Alert Bay Cormorants beat the Cowichan Eagles 2-1 in overtime to claim the men’s championship, while the Alert Bay Thunderettes defeated the Saanich Hurricanes 4-1 to win the women’s title.
Organizer Tim Harris is thrilled with the turnout and the weather, and he was happy that Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins and Stz’uminus First Nation councillors Harvey Seymour and Herb Seymour spoke at the tournament.
“We were really happy,” he said. “We heard from 49th Parallel Grocery that the tournament brought in a lot of revenue and people shopping. It helps the local community. I saw how busy the local restaurants were.”
The tournament is a double-knockout tournament, and Harris says one of his favourite things during the weekend was seeing a team like the Saanich Hurricanes pull through to make it to the women’s final and also seeing the Cowichan Eagles play so many games to make it to the final and then play so well.
Harris was also impressed with the players’ attitudes on and off the field.
“The sportsmanship of the players was another great thing to see,” he said.
The finals were played at Forrest Field, and Harris says everyone enjoyed playing on the turf field and appreciated the seating for spectators.
“It was really packed,” he said.
Harris is grateful to everyone who helped make this tournament such a success, including the Stz’uminus First Nation, the Town of Ladysmith, School District 68, 49th Parallel Grocery, Bouma Meats, and accommodations like the Fuller Lake Motel and Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn that offered deals for participants.
“We couldn’t do it without all these people helping out,” he said.
He’s also very grateful to his organizing committee.
“I can’t say anything about the tournament without recognizing our committee,” he said. “We have a real strong committee, and I can’t say enough. Sue Glenn from the Town of Ladysmith plays a huge role in organizing it from the Town’s perspective. When the tournament comes, our committee does so much running around.”
The tournament is non-profit, and Harris feels the fact it is all-native helps build connections within and among nations.
“It’s not a fundraiser; it’s just something we do for our people to keep us busy,” he said. “It’s something to look forward to for our youth and something to keep everyone fit. It’s all-native. We only have so many events that we call our own — it’s just about things we can do together and about getting together with other tribes. Soccer’s just a part of it — it’s really bringing people together, a social event. A lot of people I’m friends with are because of soccer.”
The organizing committee is already getting excited for next year’s tournament, which will be held during the Canada Day long weekend.
Harris says the tournament is getting bigger and better.
“People are knowing more about it every year, and it continues to grow,” he said. “We’re looking at more teams probably next year.”
Harris encourages everyone to come out to watch the games next year.
“It’s open for everyone,” he said. “It’s not just our tournament — it’s the town’s. It’s really high-calibre soccer.”
Organizing committee member Robin Harris says the tournament is getting bigger, and with that, the committee is always looking for more volunteers.
“Every year, we’re growing and there are more participants,” she said. “We’re looking forward to next year.”