Kristen Douglas/Mirror file photo Hans Aunet

Unity put Campbell River soccer on the map

Campbell River will field two men's soccer teams this coming season

It’s been two years since the barrier was broken down.

Two years and Cermaq City is stronger than ever, following the amalgamation of two soccer clubs from different sides of the tracks.

The predominantly First Nation Golden Wings club and the Masters FC merged two years ago to become today’s version of Cermaq City.

Coaches Rob Shaw and Peter McWilliams say it was the best thing that could have happened for Campbell River soccer.

“That’s what put Campbell River soccer on the map, that unity,” Shaw says. “Once we decided to unite, we became stronger.”

So strong that Cermaq has quickly risen from a Division 4 team to a Division 1 team in a span of only a few years.

This season will be the club’s first competing in the top tier.

It will also be the first time Campbell River fields two men’s soccer teams.

With rising popularity and an increasing amount of interest from men who have fallen in between the soccer cracks, the club saw a window for expansion.

The new team will play at the Division 4 level and be a feeder team for the Division 1 club.

“We’ve decided to go with this Division 4 team to help promote soccer in the community,” Shaw says. “This system will help bridge a gap.

“It’s a big step to expand men’s soccer in Campbell River and provide more opportunities to play.”

Last season, Cermaq City had 26 players on its roster. Between the two teams, the hope is to next season be able to provide 40 players with field time.

Players range in age from 18 to 35, but McWilliams says the team often appeals to men who are still figuring out their future.

“We try to engage guys who aren’t sure what they’re going to do with school, who are in those years after high school and they’re not sure if they’re going to go to university or go into the trades,” McWilliams says. “Those people who aren’t 100 per cent sure where they’re going to go and stay in the community.”

McWilliams says the team is also hoping to engage workers who are living in Campbell River temporarily for work, such as those working on the hospital and generating station projects, and are looking for something to do during their spare time.

“Even if we can recruit one guy – maybe he’s working on the dam and he’s from Chile,” McWilliams says.

Tryouts for the team begin July 5 at 7 p.m. at Phoenix school and anyone interested is welcome to attend.

There’s a time commitment involved as half of the games during the season involve travel, with many games in Victoria.

But McWilliams says those trips are a “huge bonding experience” and being a part of the team has been a great way to meet new people and make new connections.

“It’s a real sense of community,” McWilliams says. “It’s a healthy outlet for people.”

The season tentatively begins Sept. 17 and runs until March. There is a registration fee of $150 but equipment and jerseys are free of charge thanks to sponsorship from Cermaq which Shaw credits for helping the club with its expansion pursuits.

Anyone interested in joining the team can contact Rob Shaw at rob_shaw_7@hotmail.com or Peter McWilliams at peterthomasmcwilliams@gmail.com