After three years of representing home away from home, the Sooke Seahawks will once again play on their local turf at Edward Milne Community School.
The addition is part of a slew of invigorating changes to the Seahawks, which includes new players, as well as the return of a junior bantam division, which was on year-long hiatus due to dwindling player numbers, leaving just atoms and pee wees.
Things are looking up for the Seahawks though, with around 20 players in atom and pee wee and 16 signed up for junior bantam.
“We worked really hard to try and get as many kids involved as we could, because we haven’t had an older boys junior bantam team for a couple of years now,” said Natalie Kaisinger, pee wee team manager. “We’re all very excited about this.”
Three games are already lined up for some home field action this Sunday (April 10) versus the West Shore Warriors: atoms will kick off 10:30 a.m., pee wees at 12:45 p.m. and junior bantams at 3 p.m.
This will be the first time in three years since the Seahawks played here in Sooke, which spares parents and players from traveling down to the West Shore just to play football, noted Kaisinger.
“That’s not our home, Sooke is,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to get some local interest, either from parents or anyone who would like to come and watch.”
And unlike other outdoor sports, the Seahawks play rain or shine.
Last weekend, the new junior bantam team kicked off to a good start during a round-robin tournament at the Westhills Stadium, certainly a welcome sight for the Seahawks.
A lot of the players on the junior bantam team played on the pee wee team last year or tried to play junior bantam, but there weren’t enough players, they went and played for West Shore, said Nathan Lowther, adding that most of those players played football for at least a couple of years.
Provided with the opportunity to play locally, Lowther noted this should inspire more kids to take part in the sport.
“This is giving kids an avenue to get outside and be physically active and develop that team spirit,” he said, adding that overall registrations in outdoor sports across the board are declining because kids have more indoor activities, rather than playing outside.
Even with just two teams though, the Seahawks still managed to get pretty far. The atoms made it to the gold cup finals, while the Peewees played for the silver. Both lost, but the amount of progress made throughout the year was worth its weight in gold, noted Lowther.
“We did start out slow, and we had some growing pains, but we played the best football by the end of the year, which is what you want to do.”
So far, the junior bantam has 16 registered players; it’s good, but a couple of more players would be nice to have. Still, Lowther is optimistic of the new season.
“We’ve got a good group of experienced kids. We’ve got a lot of athletic talent, so I think we should hold our own this year.”