Mission Soccer Club is about to reach a major milestone
Ahead of its 50th anniversary, club president Doug McKellan unveiled a new technical director – and a new uniform – at a youth soccer camp last Wednesday (Aug. 9) at Mission Sports Park.
Graham Thompson takes over as technical director after a long history with the club. He started playing for Mission Soccer when he was four and played in the area until he was about 10.
After playing in Maple Ridge, he came back as an adult to both play and coach.
“We’ve developed a lot of players and we see a lot of other clubs scouting our players because they’re so well developed,” McKellan said. “We’ve brought in Graham with his expertise to bring the levels up even more.”
In the new role, Thompson hopes to work with coaches to empower them with the proper tools.
“We have a great facility here with lots of (nets). So players can play games and coaches can help players in game environments,” Thompson said. “Our role is going to be pushing those coaches a little bit more and challenging them to go and get more education. With that, the players will develop. (If) we help coaches develop, they’ll help the players develop.”
Thompson also hopes to offer more programs so players can play more often.
“Players in our community – they want to play on our teams and they want to play here, but they also go elsewhere for extra training,” Thompson said. “We feel that we have good coaches in our community and we can offer that development training here. So it’s (about) building those programs.”
Thompson said Mission Soccer’s strength is the commitment of everyone involved.
“The dedication from all the volunteers is kind of what sets the club apart and allows the club to grow,” he said.
McKellan says the biggest demand for the club has always been getting volunteers, including coaches.
An increase in coaches would allow for more individual attention for players with smaller groups and training pools.
Mission Soccer Club has witnessed its biggest growth in the Timbits program for children under six and seven years old. McKellan says it’s a great sign because it provides the club with a foundation to build on.
The foremost challenge for Mission Soccer is having proper fields. Fields with sufficient drainage could lead to more practices and more opportunities for players to join, McKellan says.
“We’re getting to the point where with the numbers that we’re getting, it’s limiting our training times,” McKellan said.
A lack of lights on fields – outside of Mission Sports Park – proves challenging in the fall when it gets darker earlier, McKellan says. However, he says more lights for other fields would help with the high demand.
“As soon as it starts to rain and the grass gets closed, this is our only field,” McKellan said. “And we have to share it with American football and lacrosse.”
McKellan moved to Mission in 2008 and was approached about coaching shortly after. He’s been a part of the club ever since. He says there have been a lot of changes since he started in Mission but the addition of the turf field has made a big difference.
With the club’s 50th anniversary approaching, McKellan and Thompson are both looking forward to reflecting on the past.
“There are so many stories from different people about how meaningful soccer has been in Mission,” McKellan said.
“Growing up, I really enjoyed part being part of the club,” Thompson said. “Learning about those stories, or reading those stories from the past, I think that’s probably the part I enjoy most about it.”
McKellan says Mission Soccer is always looking for sponsors to help keep soccer affordable for the community.