Club changing formats to improve experience, options
April showers bring May flowers, but May also brings dried out soccer fields including the dozens used to accommodate the Barrie Soccer Club's growing registration.
With one of the largest soccer leagues in the province, the Barrie Club has always worked to improve player experience and to offer new opptions.
This year is no exception, with a new program, a new tournament and a significant change to the house league schedule.
The new program is kinder soccer for children under three. The building athletes will take to the field with a parent in a groups of eight kids to play different games with the ball.
The parent-child team will play on the mini-fields that are currently used for the under-4 and under-5 leagues. A club member guides them through the activities. The goal is plain and simple-fun.
"It's not practice session," said general manager Rick Morandini."it's to make the ball their friend."
At the end of session, the players match up against their parents in a pick-up game.
Based on the ongoing success of the club's Spiritfest tournament that saw 192 teams from across the province attend last year, the Barrie Soccer Club is adding an all-star tournament to be held on the last weekend in August.
The all-star program is for house league players aged 10 and up who wish to improve their skills and participate in a few tournaments.
"We want to provide a home venue for teams," said Morandini.
"It will be at the sports Complex and Tree Nursery, so it's essentially one venue."
It's nice feature for parents who don't want to spend their day ferrying between fields.
One of the biggest changes at the Club and the one Morandini believes will be the most contentious is the change to house league format that will now follow more of a European model rather than North American format that parents are accustomed to.
Teams previously followed a play-off structure with quarter and semi-final competition that culminated in the play-off match.
In the proposed league cup structure in the nine and up age groups, teams will play a combination of regular season games and league cup games throughout the year with the league cup competition leading toward the final championship day at the end of the year.
"There aren't any actual play-offs," said Morandini. "It's a different mind-set."
Teams will either enter the winner's pool or consolation pool at the tournament depending on the regular season record.
"It also spreads out the league cup games so that players aren't absent for the entire playoff series," said Morandini, referring to the difficulty of managing numbers when many players are away on vacation. "Players are present for more games and it gives them more opportunity to play."
The club has delayed the start of the house league season until after May long-weekend to make sure the fields are good and ready.
By COLLEEN WINTER