For the first time since 2006, Sooke will be without a Division 1 soccer team. The Sooke Celtics, Sooke’s Division 1 men’s soccer team, has folded.
The decision was not an easy one to make, but it was inevitable.
“We did not want to fold the team,” said Robin Robin Saxl, president of the Sooke Soccer Club. “To give up a top level team is a heartbreaking decision.”
He went on to explain. “What happened over the past few years, they were shrinking in numbers, and the talent, to be honest, just wasn’t there to sustain this,” explained Saxl. “We have maybe seven or eight homegrown players at this point who could play at that level, but without the talent from the in-town players, it just wasn’t sustainable.”
At the same time that this Division 1 team has folded due to a steady diminishment of talent, ironically, the interest in soccer in Sooke is growing.
Registrations are up a bit, said Saxl, after seeing a decline over the past few years. “We were up to close to 400 players six/seven years ago. And now we are at probably 350. But were down as far as 280.”
While he can’t attribute the upward (or downward) swing to anything specific, Saxl points out that soccer is financially accessible. “We’re a really cheap sport, equipment-wise and registration. It’s cheap compared to hockey.”
What this means is that the Sooke Soccer Club can start rebuilding its homegrown talent.
“It’s better to start again and rebuild at level three, and we are quite confident that we can get going up there again with growing talent and the talent we already have.” Saxl sees a Division 1 team sometime within the next five years.
“We will have a division two team next year, no matter what.”
In order to become a top level team, players need to commit to the sport. “You’re looking at two- to three-times a week practice, and of course the games,” said Saxl. “During the summer break it’s up to every individual to keep fit.” The season runs from September through March, and the fields can get quite soggy over the wintery wet months.
Which leads to the other future aspiration for Saxl: besides growing a Division 1 men’s soccer team, he would love to see a less soggy space on which to play.
“Our goal is to put an artificial turf on the field so we don’t have to close it down when it rains,” said Saxl. Anyone interested in supporting the cause can purchase a square foot for $10. They are looking to cover 30,000 square feet. Anyone interested in owning a square foot of turf can contact the Sooke Soccer club through their website at sookesoccer.com, and click on the Contact tab.