CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN
Gerry Rocan (Brandon Youth Soccer Association), Robert Gale (technical director for Manitoba Soccer), Olympic bronze medallist Desiree Scott, ACC president Mark Frison and Barry Gooden (ACC Dean of Trades and Technology) and ACC mascot Caccey.
The world’s most popular sport is coming to Assiniboine Community College.
The school announced at a press conference at the Vincent Massey gymnasium on Monday that it will add men’s and women’s soccer to its Cougars athletics program. The athletic program already includes men’s and women’s volleyball and basketball.
The smile on ACC president Mark Frison’s face couldn’t be wiped away during the event as he was proud that ACC will now compete in all six leagues offered by the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference and he believes the teams will bring something new to the community.
"It was a logical choice for the next sport," he said. "It’s got the highest participatory rate in Canada for youth. Further, it appeals to a lot of the newcomers to Canada that we have in Brandon. In the countries of origins that many of them come to us from, soccer is the number one sport."
It’s not just the new people in the Westman community that Gerry Rocan, a director with the Brandon Youth Soccer Association, thinks this team will benefit. He’s seen a lot of kids come up through local minor soccer, but have no place to go to locally after they finish high school, other than the senior leagues. He hopes ACC’s new soccer teams will inspire more players to join the local leagues and inspire them to play at the next level.
"It’s really important for these kids to have the opportunity to think beyond varsity sports in high school and youth soccer," Rocan said. "Some of the better players had a chance to go to university and college, but they’ve been going outside of the Westman area. Having this here now is really huge for us."
The Cougars will take the pitch for the 2013 season, joining Providence University College — whose teams feature Brandonites Kate Osadchuk and Norvin Campos —as well as Red River College and Canadian Mennonite College in both men’s and women’s divisions and Universite de Saint-Boniface in the men’s league.
However, the Cougars have not locked down a home location to play their games next fall. Some of the fields at Optimist Park may be ready for use next fall, but there’s no guarantee of that happening.
The teams also need coaches, although athletic director Larry Shannon has started some discussions with potential candidates. ACC is using the new soccer teams as a recruiting tool and hopes to offer soccer players similar scholarships that are eligible to the volleyball and basketball players.
Frison knows locking down head coaches will help with the recruiting process and he hopes to hire the programs’ first coaches as quickly as possible.
"We’re hoping to do that relatively quickly because that will be an important aspect of recruiting players," he said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 30, 2012