Snow in the forecast this weekend provokes a collective groan in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, but nobody is more fed up with wintry weather than Misty Thomas.
“It’s been a tough winter,” said the executive director of the local soccer association, West Coast Auto Group FC.
She added that the demand for fields this season underlines the demand for the development of more artificial turf in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows. Fortunately, at least three are in the works.
Soccer teams played one weekend in December, and then most were off fields until the Jan. 14-15 weekend. And now there will be another lost weekend, or more.
Thomas said league schedulers are scrambling to find fields to make up important cup games.
“It’s a massive challenge right now to get in those games, and get everyone on the field,” she said.
“And now the forecast is for snow.
“The weather this year has focussed the attention on our field crunch.”
After inclement weather the grass fields are often closed to avoid the turf being damaged. Artificial turf fields can take the wear and tear, but there are only three in the city – at Samuel Robertson Technical, Westview and Pitt Meadows secondary schools.
The soccer association is the largest user group on the fields, but football, field lacrosse and other groups also need field time.
WCAGFC president Jason Salchert has been meeting with both cities about future plans for field development. He is expecting one or two more turf fields at Albion, and Maple Ridge is now engaged in its community facilities conversation with a feedback survey.
Pitt Meadows developer Onni is expected to donate two turf fields to the city as part of its Golden Ears Business Park in South Bonson.
The three new fields would meet existing demand, he said.
“It would catch us up to what is needed now.”
Parents who move to the region from other parts of the country have often asked why the Lower Mainland plays soccer during the winter. Now, more are signing their kids up for fair weather soccer.
“Spring soccer has certainly boomed – it has grown everywhere, throughout the Lower Mainland,” said Thomas.
In the WCAGFC about half of the 1,300 players who register for fall/winter soccer are now signing up for the spring league, but Thomas said some associations are now getting equal numbers for both.
• Registration for spring soccer is coming in February, with the season to run from early April until late June. See the club’s website at westcoastfc.ca.