Children and parents awaiting the return of recreational soccer in Hawkesbury might have to wait indefinitely.
During a meeting held on January 24, 2018, Soccer Pro17’s remaining decision-makers had no choice but to pull the plug on the recreational side of their league’s activities for the 2018 season in Hawkesbury. Now, only the four competitive teams remain, along with the recreational program in Plantagenet, which remains untouched.
For the curious, the recreational division welcomes anyone who wants to learn the game in a friendly, non-competitive environment while still benefiting from the league’s perks like equipment, referees and coaches.
According to Jason Golden, a volunteer with the organization, at least 10 volunteers, plus coaches, are needed for everything to run smoothly just for the recreational division.
Sadly, at the last meeting, the volunteer headcount was zero for recreational and eight for competitive.
“Over the past two seasons, not a single parent from the recreational division volunteered to help the league at the organizational level,” said Golden, adding that “Three parents from the competitive division were kind enough to pick up the slack.”
Sébastien Séguin, another of the league’s volunteers, reiterated the importance of having parents involved not only as coaches, but as decision-makers and organizers.
“With the right people in place at the executive level, good organization trickles down. Finding coaches was never easy, but got done.”
Séguin also stated that “over the past few years, the few remaining volunteers at the executive level stayed because they believed in having recreational soccer, but were simply overworked.”
The lack of participation left Séguin surprised.
“In the fall of 2017, I started a volunteer recruitment campaign through social media, the press, mass email and professional posters… We didn’t even get one volunteer. The message on our posters was pretty clear, too. It was basically an ultimatum: If we don’t get new volunteers, we won’t be able to offer rec soccer in 2018.”
In response to this sad news, many parents directed their frustration to the Town of Hawkesbury, stating that it should have gotten more involved. According to Séguin, that statement is not only false, but dodges the real issue.
“It’s simply not true. The town has been helping us out more and more each year, but they can’t take control of the league. Parents are mad, but they still won’t volunteer their time.”
Jeneffer Matheis, long-time volunteer and league supporter, hypothesizes that the league might be trying to do “too much”; that the community isn’t looking for a product of this level.
“The Ontario Soccer Association has a certain level of standards, so we’ve been trying to respect these levels. Our refs are certified and paid. A lot of behind-the-scenes work is required to meet those standards.”
Even though the competitive division of the league is still intact and active, Matheis hopes that this turn of events hides a silver lining.
“We hope this will be a wake-up call for the community. Maybe next year we’ll get more support and bring back recreational soccer to Hawkesbury.”
Interested in participating?
For parents interested in introducing their children to recreational soccer, the league invites you to contact their Plantagenet chapter. As for the competitive teams, U10 tryouts will be held on the 3 and 4 of March, 2018, between the hours of 3:30 and 5:00 pm in Alexandria. All the information can be found on Soccer Pro17’s Facebook page, with additional contact information located on the organization’s website, http://soccerpro17.ca/.