For the first time, two soccer communities had to battle for the rights to host the 2013 Under 16 Girls Tier IV Rural Provincials. Ponoka, with their championship victory from last year, won the bid.
“Sometimes it’s a bit of a risk assessment. You want to send in a team that’s going to do fairly well,” said organizing committee member Michelle Blanchette.
“These guys were provincial champions last year so it was a good risk,” she added.
Hosting the tournament came down to Ponoka and Carstairs, and Blanchette feels it was the girls’ history and a letter crafted by local association president Rob McArthur to the Alberta Soccer Association that helped seal the bid.
“When we realized we had to compete this year we treated it like it was an Olympic bid . . . We sold Ponoka. We’re hoping the town sees that. It isn’t just about promoting kicking a ball around,” said Blanchette.
Ponoka Storm and Ponoka Minor Soccer Association reached out to the community for support in hosting duties in the way of sponsors, volunteers, awards, runners and field marshals. “Lucky we have some fabulous volunteers,” said Blanchette.
Before the provincial tournament, taking place July 5 to 7, teams from across the region compete in provincial qualifiers. As hosts, Blanchette says Ponoka’s U-16 team isn’t mandated to go, but they’ll compete there anyway.
Two central Alberta teams will be able to play at provincials, so, if Ponoka places first at the qualifiers whoever wins second will attend. If Ponoka doesn’t win, the winning team will be the other team to attend provincials.
This isn’t the first time Ponoka has hosted a provincials. Two years ago they won the bid for the U-18 tournament, and because nobody stepped up, were asked to simultaneously host the U-14 event as well. “So we doubled up our efforts and besides the weather it was great,” said Blanchette.
The tournament will use the Ponoka Composite High School field as the designated home field as well as the field near the Scouts Hall.