Less than a week after the king of events is done, Ponoka will be hosting another huge event.
It was announced last week that the Ponoka Minor Soccer Association (PMSA) has won the bid to hold the both the Under-18 boys and girls Tier IV provincial championship tournaments scheduled for July 8 to 10.
“When I heard our bid was the winner, I was a bit surprised,” said PMSA president Rob McArthur.
“I’m excited as both of our teams should be strong contenders for their league and the provincial titles.”
He added each team has a strong coach in place and many of the players have been together for quite some time, meaning there are no worries about the host teams being pushovers or also-rans like sometimes occurs at provincials.
It’s been a long and rough road filled with politics and more than their share of pitfalls for Ponoka to get this far.
McArthur explained that it was only three years ago the PMSA hosted an Under-16 girls provincial championship, but he wasn’t sure small communities would ever get the chance to do so again.
“When we submitted our bid, there was some political stuff going on with talk about lumping all of the championships together in one of the cities, so it was looking like it wasn’t going to happen,” he said.
“However, we and others fought hard because if you take these types of opportunities away, there is a lot more at stake than just holding a tournament. When we hosted the provincials three years ago, the now mayor came out to see the final between a pair of out of town teams and was blown away by the 300 or more people on the sidelines watching.”
And so began the process of building the bid for this year, as the association received money and assistance from the town shortly after the last election for new fields.
“Initially, it was going to be a five to six year project for us,” McArthur stated, but then the group got a chance to raise some money through the Ponoka Stampede.
“We raised about $29,000, giving us the ability to make it all happen in just one year along with the town chipping in with more money for nets and equipment,” he added.
A very dry summer last year hurt the new fields and meant several repairs were needed, but according to McArthur, the rest it gave the fields was the best thing they could have done.
“Everyone worked hard and the town listened to us explain the fields are coming along and will be ready soon,” he said.
“And after putting our best foot forward, they are looking just gorgeous and we are going to have four great fields for soccer this season.”
In addition, the bid won due to the strong support network of volunteers and parents.