New leagues, board rules for Phantom Lake soccer

The Phantom Lake Soccer Club’s 2019 season includes small tweaks to the organization’s on- and off-field operations, with more sweeping changes planned for the future.

On the field, changes have come for some of the club’s divisions. Division 5, consisting mostly of 16-, 17- and 18-year-old players, may soon be changed to a city-wide recreational league including adult players.

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“As of right now, soccer in Flin Flon more or less ended at Grade 12 or age 18. There was no program after that. We need more kids in Division 5 because our players there still want a competitive, structured league, but we haven’t been able to find the magic answer to make that happenm,” said Keely Patterson, the club’s president. “We’re hoping to have this program, where we’ll find some adults and have them registered.

“It’s going to be a bit of a trial-and-error period, but I’m hopeful that it’s going to be successful and that league will play throughout the summer.”

The potential recreational league will be officially announced in the coming weeks, pending approval from the City of Flin Flon parks and recreation department, who were approached to partner in the project. Current plans for the league see it continuing throughout the summer instead of ending in late June like other divisions.

Division 4 teams will also see changes, consisting this season of players born in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The oldest players among this group – most of whom will be 15 by the time the season finishes in late June – previously played with older teens in Division 5. However, with off-field priorities like driver’s education, work and increasing school responsibilities, many players in senior high school grades can’t find the time to consistently play. The situation left younger players in the age division out in the cold.

“What we found is Division 5 is not structured enough for kids, because of jobs, driver’s education and other commitments. That loss of interest is, unfortunately, contagious and it’s dropping our older numbers. We lost quite a few Grade 9 players last year, so we’re trying to prevent that,” Patterson said.

The club will also look at improvements to the soccer field at Foster Park, including the addition of washrooms to the site. Discussions on this subject are ongoing.

Another addition could come in the form of a new winter sport: an official futsal league. Futsal, a fast-paced form of indoor soccer, is played by larger clubs and by college soccer teams across Canada as a way to stay in game shape during winter months. While indoor soccer has long been a staple of Flin Flon gym classes and indoor soccer tournaments are hosted each year, no futsal league has ever been established in the city.

The biggest changes to the club’s operations will take place behind the scenes, however. This year, the club’s board hopes to reorganize its entire governance structure, allowing things to move more efficiently and speed its decision-making processes.

“As a board, our goal is to have a club that’s running smoother and more efficient so we can put time into the other things, like programs, additional stuff like planning events and different projects,” said Patterson.

The policy and procedure overhaul is likely to be finished by the time next season starts.

“That’s one of our biggest projects behind the scenes,” Patterson said.

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