Delightful squeals of children at Iroquois Park in Sidney signals another busy spring league evening for the Peninsula Football Club.
Peninsula FC, as it is known, is in its third week of spring league and each session begins with the younger kids who are just learning about the sport of soccer. It’s a popular program, says Club President Mike Synnuck, adding it has doubled the amount of registrations in the last three years.
“We’ve gone from 80 kids three years ago, to 150 and now we’re up to over 200 kids,” he said.
For children under six years old, Synnuck said the coaches help them learn the game, introducing them to the fundamentals.
“Hopefully, we get them interested in it. Here, we emphasize having fun and getting a bit of exercise.”
If they do like the sport, he continued, players can transfer over into the Club’s fall and winter league.
The idea, he said, is to help build up the soccer program here. Peninsula FC — which is the new branding for the Peninsula Minor Soccer Association in celebration of its 40th year in 2014 — is a cradle to grave organization, Synnuck said. It provides opportunities to play from a young age, well into the teens and on into adulthood. Player numbers go up and down, he added, and their spring league is designed to help even things out over the long term.
“The challenge for the club is retention. We do get some really great players coming out of the Saanich Peninsula, and some do tend to gravitate to other interests or to other soccer clubs.”
Yet, the local club continues to grow, especially among the younger children taking part in the spring. Last year, he said, 20 players from that group signed up for the fall and winter season. As the club grows, Synnuck said one of their overall goals is to push for a turf field at Blue Heron Park in North Saanich. One of the club’s challenges every year is the amount of field closures due to poor weather or repairs. The two pitches at the park right now are traditional sod and grass. Going with artificial turf, Synnuck said, could extend the seasons.
That goal is going to be expensive, however. Synnuck noted turf fields cost anywhere from $800,000 to $1.25 million. Getting there will be a long-term process, he said.
While spring league runs only until mid-June, parents and players still have the opportunity to sign up for the fall and winter season. Early registrations are being accepted until May 30. Visit peninsulasoccer.ca.