Women’s soccer stays on sidelines

Pacific Coast Soccer League unable to operate a women's premier division again, men's division drops in teams

Despite the Pacific Coast Soccer League’s best efforts, they will not operate a women’s premier division.

It’s the second straight year the PCSL will operate without the division as they could not get enough commitments from clubs from other areas including the Lower Mainland.

Penticton Soccer Club (PSC) president Dale Anderson said he’s very sad about the situation.

“The PCSL tried hard to get the league going. I know they did,” said Anderson. “I was part of it. I was part of the email trail, the phone calls. Months of months of planning went down the drain.”

Because of the hard push by PCSL officials, especially president Dave Collard, to try to get the women’s division going, Anderson and executives from other clubs in the Okanagan area halted their attempts to create a league. Anderson asked the question, “How do we get this re-invigorated for us?” he said. “Nobody cares about us from down in the Lower Mainland. We’ve got to care about ourselves. It means we’re either going to have to organize our own league or it will never happen.”

The goal is to have the new league for 2017.

Equally disappointed by the division’s fate is Pinnacles coach Ray Hintz.

“The thing that hurts the most is now we have nothing here for the future of our younger youth girls who want to play at the next level,” said Hintz, who coached the Pinnacles to back-to-back PCSL Bill Gillespie Challenge Cup championships in 2013 and ‘14. “When you are at 16 to 18, and you are good enough to go play against college girls or higher-end players, you won’t have that opportunity.”

Pinnacles FC has 750 females in its program, which is an increase over last year. On competitive teams, there are 75 girls in the 13 to 18 age teams.

The PSC’s plan is to give players an opportunity to train and be ready for their respective college or university seasons in friendly games. Hintz has had conversations with Thompson Rivers University women’s coach Kelly Shantz to start a small tournament. The Pinnacles will also play in the PSC’s 55th annual Pacific Western Brewery Soccer tournament during the May long weekend. Hintz will also search for as many friendly games that they can get.

“I was really looking forward to this year because the players that we had coming back, and the mixture of veterans and youth, I think this would have been … pretty special.”

As for the men’s side, the Premier Division has been reduced from nine teams to six. The Tim Horton’s Pinnacles will face Vancouver United FC, Mid-Island Mariners, Khalsa Sporting Club, Kamloops Heat and the UBC Thunderbirds.

Anderson said last year was a struggle for the team in its return to the Premier Division. They hoped to finish in the middle of the pack. Instead, they finished eighth with three wins in 16 matches. With university players returning and other young players now with a desire to play in the division, Anderson is excited about the potential for this year’s squad.

“I think that last year we got our feet wet,” he said. “I think we can show a product on our field that people are going to want to be around watching.”

With a desire to field more local talent, Anderson hopes that results in crowds of 400 to 500 for their five home games. The team attracted a crowd that size when one of their games was played during the May long tournament.

“It was fabulous. The guys get to play and feel like the city is behind them,” said Anderson. “When you get your fans out, that is what it’s all about.”

The Pinnacles, who will again have Tim Horton’s as a major sponsor, opens its season on May 5 at 2 p.m. at King’s Park against the Kamloops Heat.  On May 21, the Pinnacles welcome the Mid-Island Mariners for a 7 p.m. kickoff. On June 4, the Pinnacles host the UBC Thunderbirds at 7 p.m., then the Vancouver United FC on June 25 at 7 p.m. Their final home game is July 3 at 2 p.m. against the Khalsa Sporting Club. They are the defending champions.




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