Peninsula, Salt Spring Island get high-level soccer team

New zones in Vancouver Island Premier League create opportunity

A revamped Vancouver Island Premier League means new soccer development opportunities for the Peninsula and Salt Spring Island.

Tryouts began April 24 for a new under15 and 16 boys soccer team in a zone consisting of the Saanich Peninsula and Salt Spring Island. Peninsula Soccer Association board member and technical chairman Paul Coulson says the association has had girls from the area playing at the VIPL level for a couple of years. Girls soccer is expanding to the U16 level this year and tryouts began last week as well. With the changes in the VIPL, Coulson said it’s creating more opportunities for young soccer players to compete at a high level.

“This will be our first time with this age group for boys in the Premier League,” he said. “It used to be there had to be a qualifying year (in the VIPL), but it changed when the Island was broken up into zones.”

The Peninsula and Salt Spring Island communities are together in one of the five new zones. Tryouts held last week at Blue Heron Park in North Saanich for the boys team included youth from both places.

Coach Jon Davidson from the Peninsula Soccer Association said the new zones means more teams in the league — and more competition for players who want to further develop their skills.

It’s another level of soccer, he continued, for players who work their way up to more and more elite teams in the minor soccer community.

“It’s an exciting challenge,” said Coulson. “It gives our better players an exciting development avenue.”

Tryouts will continue into the late spring and early summer. Premier League play doesn’t begin until September, said Coulson, giving the local zone time to come up with a team name — a task he said might be up to the players.