A northwest soccer enthusiast wants to start a professional development soccer league in the area.
Lawrence Shanoss, from Gitsegukla and now living in Terrace, wants 10 adult men’s and 10 women’s soccer teams from Prince Rupert to Smithers to be part of the new league.
The league would be a northern division of the Pacific Coast Soccer League, an outdoor adult league based in southern B.C. that develops players for provincial, national and major league soccer teams.
“This is my dream. I’ve always been a sports enthusiast,” Shanoss said.
“I just love the young people, and that’s who I am doing this for… we have so much talent in this region.”
Shanoss wants to meet this September with community leaders and soccer-program heads in the region, and then kick off the league in April 2016.
League president David Collard says the league is eager to expand into the north, but needs teams to officially apply by December in order to move forward.
“We are in a position to move really quickly once we have this commitment from the northern region,” Collard said.
He says the league needs a minimum of six committed men’s and six women’s teams of players between the ages of 18 and 23 in order to launch a northern division.
Blaine Kluss, director of the Terrace Youth Soccer Association (TYSA), says starting this up is “a brilliant idea.”
There are no highly competitive leagues like it and the only adult soccer league is moderately competitive, he said.
Kluss said he has no doubt there would be enough players for a Terrace team.
“Terrace has enough soccer players in that age range to put a competitive team together,” he said.
Still, it might be difficult to assemble six men’s and six women’s teams in the north by December simply because communities are small, he added.
“It is all about leadership. You need to have strong individuals in each community to put those teams together.”
Danu Craig, the Haisla Nation’s recreation coordinator and a Terrace resident, says a northern division of the southern soccer league would give TYSA players a chance to further develop their skills.
“I feel there is definitely enough men to put a team together for this league… I’d play for it. My friends would,” Craig said, adding that soccer has been growing in popularity here.
If organized, northern division teams would play 18 games from April to August. Then the top three men’s and women’s teams would travel south to play top southern teams for respective league cups.
Shanoss says that long-term, he hopes to use the league as a platform to apply for grants for improved playing fields in the region.
His ultimate goal is to raise enough money to build a 2,600-seat soccer stadium in Terrace.
Collard said the Pacific Coast Soccer League would help promote the sport if a northern division is launched.
“It would be wonderful for that region,” he said.