Ezra Cremers will be leaving Salmon Arm, come September.
The technical and executive director of the Shuswap Youth Soccer Association has accepted a position in Penticton with the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association. There he’ll be fulfilling the same duties – technical director and executive director.
He says he’s sad to leave, particularly as he had planned to be in Salmon Arm for five years.
“When I came here, Shuswap Football Club didn’t offer me a five-year term. I said I needed five years to start to make change, to implement change, evaluate, implement and execute, and that would take me five years. Since I’ve been here, the longest contract I’ve had is 11 months. I had every intention of staying here and so did the executive board of Shuswap Youth Soccer…,” he says. “I’m sad that I have had to move on, but I received a phone call and I was offered a deal, an opportunity, I could not refuse.”
Cremers said the offer is about more than better monetary compensation. When he got into soccer, as a player and as a junior coach, he said he realized the structure in Canada needed change in terms of long-term player development. That has been his goal in Salmon Arm, one which will continue in Penticton.
“Pinnacles FC has given me a bigger vehicle to continue my quest in helping not just Salmon Arm, not just TOYSL (the Thompson Okanagan Youth Soccer League) region, not just British Columbia, but to be part of Canada, creating a soccer nation for our youth players to develop properly at all levels – in an amateur structure and a professional structure,” he says. “Penticton has given me a bigger vehicle. Penticton is double the size – they have 2,500 players, and they have facilities where I’m able to show coaches and players what it takes to train at a high level. For example, their indoor building, they run themselves, where they are able to have their players train as much as they can or want… They have the facilities to be successful.”
He said Salmon Arm has always been progressive on the field, but is behind in fields and facilities.
“Because of the good relationship I have with the (Shuswap) executive board, Penticton and Salmon Arm will be sister clubs, progressing together for good football.”
He said he’s thankful for the opportunity he’s had in Salmon Arm and is proud of what’s been created to date. On-field that includes skills to players and a curriculum for coaches, he said, and off-field, building a club where people trust each other and work together, as well as creating an executive director position that allows the board to long-term plan.
“I’ve created a foundation, on- and off- field, for success where volunteers, coaches, players and paid people can now be in a safe environment to teach our players and coaches how to play this game. Because it’s about soccer, it’s not about personal agendas, it’s about good football to our coaches and our players.”
Although a little concerned about how people would feel about his decision, he knew most would support him.
“I knew going to Penticton would be embraced because Salmon Arm would be proud of me, their main guy is going to a bigger club. That’s like saying our recreational player is going to our select program and our select player is now playing for the region or going to the national training centre. You have to be happy for your players to move forward because that’s good for soccer…”
He said he’ll still be liaising with Shuswap soccer.
“I’m leaving but I’m not. I won’t be living in Salmon Arm but I’ll still be very much involved with the club, and what I mean by that, as an advisor, as a consultant, a technical director – not per se my title, but through our coaching of the coaches and making sure that the transition from where we’ve been, to where we are now, continues in the same direction.”
He said the board has been fantastic and he will continue the affiliation.
“They want to play good football. Ball possession determines everything in our game. Two clubs saying the same thing will only spill over to Vernon and Kamloops.”
Cremers said his contract in Salmon Arm concludes Aug. 1 and he will start in Penticton Sept. 1.