Injuries, poor conditions forcing youth soccer off Campbell River fields

Council urged to make purchasing an artificial turf field for Robron Park a priority

A couple of serious injuries to kids in youth soccer has indefinitely forced games off of Cedar School field.

Al Rimell, president of the Campbell River Youth Soccer Association, said Cedar is one of the association’s primary soccer fields but overuse is now making it impossible to host games.

“It’s worn, it’s too damaged,” Rimell told city council at its financial planning meeting Jan. 29. “We’ve had a couple of serious injuries to young people in the Campbell River Youth Soccer Association from using a field which hasn’t been able to keep up to the wear and tear. So ultimately, we’ve been moved off Cedar for the balance of this season and we’re not sure what it’ll look like for September.”

While fall league soccer has wrapped up for the season, some of the rep teams are still playing and spring league will be starting in the next couple of months.

With Cedar School no longer an option, the kids have been moved to Pinecrest field, however, Rimell said Pinecrest may not be an option for much longer either.

“We have the same problem at Pinecrest Elementary and we’re having to move games off there,” Rimell said. “So right now we’re looking at using Penfield (school), just to get us through spring soccer and we’re having to move our U13 rep team – which is having a fantastic season – off their home field at Cedar and move them to Penfield.”

Rimell urged council to make purchasing an artificial turf field for Robron Park – a project which has been years in the making – a high priority.

On top of injuries due to worn out fields, Rimell said roughly 30 per cent of soccer games had to be cancelled this season due to bad weather, which prompted the city and school district to close its fields.

Rimell said with the artificial turf, games can be played in all types of weather and with  proper lighting, at any time of the day.

“We need a field that can take the weather, we need a field that’s got great light and that field will be used until 10 o’clock at night, six days a week, probably more,” Rimell said. “I just think, big picture, we’ve got to get there.”

Rimell noted that communities up and down the Island have already moved to artificial turf including Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and the Comox Valley which is expected to open its artificial field in September.

Rimell said the turf is providing those communities with the opportunity to host large tournaments that inject big tourism dollars into the local economy.

“We need to be a part of it,” Rimell told council.

After hearing Rimell’s presentation, council voted to keep the artificial turf on the books. However, $250,000 is not slated to be allocated until 2016 for the artificial turf, with another $200,000 allocated in 2018. Both portions of funding are intended to come from the parks parcel tax, but not until two and four more years down the road.

In the meantime, Rimell and the youth soccer association are left trying to find suitable, safe fields for their young soccer players.

Rimell said as a last resort, the association may have to consider adding Southgate school’s field to the mix, but he’s reluctant to do that.

“Southgate as a field is extremely weak,” Rimell said. “If you’ve got bad weather and there’s been a lot of rain it comes right down that hill and that field is wet all the time. Ultimately, when you look at what we have in our community, we do very well with what we have, however, we don’t have enough.”