All of Canada a big winner at the Women’s World Cup
Even though our feisty Canadian ladies’ soccer team lost a close game to England in the quarter finals, there are was absolutely no doubt that they captured the hearts and cheers of millions of fans after a gritty and amazing effort in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada from June 6 to July 15. While avid soccer fans of all ages and nationalities watched all or most of the 52 thrilling matches on television, on other media outlets or in the jam-packed stands of our Canadian host cities of Moncton, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Montreal, the overwhelming attendance may have set an all time international record for this prestigious International event.
Whichever of the 24 teams that you or I cheered for, it didn’t really matter, because we were treated to countless hours of exciting end-to-end action from those exceptionally skilled and dedicated players, as well as the ongoing enthusiasm and spirit of fans from throughout the world who so proudly waved and wore the colors of their team and nation. No matter who won that great ladies’ competition, the overwhelming benefits, promotions, funding and ongoing legacy of this keen and longstanding game will hopefully go to the hundreds of soccer associations and youth programs throughout Canada, both now and long into our future. In our Alberta alone, the very active Alberta Soccer Association has over 90,000 members, the largest participation of all sports programs in the province, and these are avidly supported by hundreds of parents, sponsors in each community, whether large or small. The greatest rewards and inspiration for year round soccer programs, both outdoors and indoors, is to see excited boys and girls, as young as 6 years and into their teens running around the playing field with their teams, kicking a ball and having some very invigorating fun. As well as their sheer enthusiasm, these young players are also thrilled and proud to wear a colorful sweater that features the name of their home town team, their name and maybe even the name of their favourite soccer idols, from Christine Sinclair to Cristiano Ronaldo and all the rest. With the increased popularity of the soccer programs across our nation, many new recreational leagues are also being formed that include teams of men, women, and mixed players from 18 years of age to seniors, and of course, we now have three professional squads in Canada.
The Ponoka Minor Soccer Association.
Our extremely active Ponoka Minor Soccer Association is doing very well, with over 300 players taking part in their 2015 season. With the help of the town and the county of Ponoka, the association have two newly soded pitches north of the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, which play host to a great deal of league play, as well as a chance to host provincials.
The local program, which includes house leagues for boys and girls teams under 6, 8, and 10 year olds, as well as competitive travelling leagues for youth under 12, 14, 16, and 18 years of age, also host instructional camps. The dedicated PMSA executive also receive excellent support from local parents, coaches, officials, sponsors, volunteers, and fans in all facets of their ever-growing yearly programs, games, and tournaments. For more information please contact them at www.ponokasoccer.ca/.
A lot of us as youngsters will never forget hanging around the old soccer pitch at Alberta Hospital for hours on end, watching the great Central Alberta League matches between the Ponoka Hospital staff squad against teams from Penhold, Wood River, Wetaskiwin and Red Deer. After the big game, we got to run around that big field and have our own game, as well as showing off to the girls, who teased us about our short pants and skinny legs.
The big teams always gave us a beat-up old soccer ball to keep and kick around, which we did everywhere and whenever possible, often getting a pick-up game with the other hooligans from Riverside or town. Most of the time, we never kept track of the score or the time and absolutely everyone got to play, with the three biggest girls sent back to play defense and goal keeping. The game of soccer, which they claim started some 3,000 years ago, is and will always be the most popular sport in many parts of the world, which currently boasts over 240 million players of all ages.
I had a flashback to my childhood last week when I heard some jolly music playing and spied the ice cream truck rolling into our neighbourhood, and will never forget chasing down that ‘Dickie-Dee’ gal or guy on the bike, then spending way to many allowances. Get out for some fun in the sun, but please check the UV rating in the morning, take along lots of lotion, and have a great week, all of you..