Since last season when the soccer ball was being kicked at the Nationals, there have been a number of board room meetings. As you would expect, a lot of discussions have been held during this time. Of course there was the 2007 fall Annual General Meeting and then there was the 2008 Spring Planning Meeting and the various conference calls. Some of these meetings were held publicly and no doubt, a number of meetings were held privately. Some new developments have occurred bringing about new constitutional changes, rule changes and even bringing in some new faces. Here are some of the interesting developments that I feel will impact this soccer season, and some of them may even influence the game of soccer in the future.
Item# 1: NLSA changes it’s constitution to permit the president of the NLSA to remain in office for a period of three 2 year terms.
Coach’s Corner Comments: I see no problem with this rule change. Initially a person could only reign as President of the NLSA for two 2 year terms (a total of four years). Now with the new rule change, a person can be President for six years. All regions became involved in this process and when all was said and done in the end, it was a very convincing vote amongst the regions to accept this constitutional change... Although Judi Kelloway did challenge Doug Redmond for the president’s position, Mr. Redmond won and would remain on as NLSA President. However I’d be a fool not to think that there wasn’t a little backroom politics played here. I feel the rule change was made to put Doug in a position where he could stay on as President of the NLSA for another two years. I realize that a couple of ulterior motives may have existed here amongst some of the NLSA hierarchy, such as St. John’s hosting the Nationals in 2008 and the fact that this past weekend the NLSA hosted the Annual Canadian Soccer Association meeting. Despite this, I feel Doug Redmond is a good solid soccer person, a superb worker and an outstanding volunteer. He has been an excellent NLSA President and under his guidance for the past four years, the sport of soccer has shown tremendous growth and I’m sure we will see the same continued development in the next two seasons.
Item# 2: A new NLSA Cup is proposed with a two game series between the Challenge Cup winner and an all-star team from the other teams, held between the Labour Day tournament and the Nationals.
Coach’s Corner Comments: I’m a firm believer that in order to compete at the Nationals we must not stop our soccer season on Labour Day Weekend. However to increase the season by a mere two exhibition games in a five week period will do very little to prepare the Challenge Cup Champions for the Nationals. Although some people have their reasons why the season should end on Labour Day Weekend, I feel this would have been the perfect season to play more games. Besides the two game series that is scheduled, another three games should be scheduled with the Memorial Men’s Soccer team. I have heard the comments that a club must fund raise in order to get to the Nationals. Well, guess what? In 2008 we are the host province and our provincial representative shouldn’t need to fundraise for this year nationals. I will address this issue later in this article.
Item# 3: It looks like the Feildians, Holy Cross; St. Lawrence, Mount Pearl and Burin will compete for the Provincial Challenge Cup in 2008.
Coach’s Corner Comments: This should be an excellent season of soccer as we will be the host province for the Nationals. It’s unfortunate that Lawn couldn’t put a team together but I guess we must face the reality of never again seeing three teams competing at a senior level on the Burin Peninsula. Having said that, I feel the fact that St. John’s and Mount Pearl can only gather up three senior teams doesn’t muster well for the development of men’s soccer in our province. I am totally against the U-18 St. John’s team competing in the Provincial Challenge Cup League. If any of these players are good enough, they should be playing at a senior level. If a player is to have any future and is 17 or 18 years of age, he should be competing at the Challenge Cup Level and with a Challenge cup Team. Even besides that, this senior competition gives the U-18 St. John’s club an unfair advantage when they play against Mount Pearl or the Burin Peninsula for the Provincial U-18 Championship. Originally exhibition competition in the Challenge Cup was allowed to permit the Newfoundland Canada Team some strong competition. It’s very peculiar to me that the Newfoundland Canada Games Team that will be competing at the Canada Games in 2009 will not be competing in the Challenge Cup League this season and the St. John’s U-18 team are. For the past number of years the NL Canada Games teams always participated in the Challenge Cup League on an exhibition basis for a two year period.
Item# 4: Here are the new rules governing “red” and “yellow” cards for the 2008 Challenge Cup and Jubilee Cup season.
Coach’s Corner Comments: Here’s the new policy on cards: Four yellow cards a player will be suspended for one game; seven cards - two games; ten cards - three games; and 12 cards - four games. For red cards, one means one game minimum; two cards mean three games minimum; three cards mean five games minimum. I feel this is a great rule change.
Item# 5: Gate charges will be $ 3 per regular season game and $ 6 for the final weekend games.
Coach’s Corner Comments: Three bucks for the regular season is fair but the league charging $6.00 per game for every man, woman, and child over the age of six years could very well be turning away fans from the games when the play- offs occur for the Provincial Jubilee Trophy and Challenge Cup. I’ve been to a dozen National Finals, numerous Provincial Finals in both Newfoundland and in other provinces and nowhere did you pay six bucks a head for a single play-off game. What I see here is exploitation and there is no way can we compare the costs associated with watching a game of amateur ball to that of what you encounter when you go to an event held at Mile One Centre. Here’s my suggestion, the regular season rate remains the same and the cost for play-offs of $4.00 a game for senior soccer is adequate, the costs for students should be $3.00 and children under the age of 12 should be admitted free. These costs are fair to the youth and it also gives the adults room to support the various volunteers who expect you to purchase a few tickets when you are attending the games.
Item# 6.The NLSA has adopted new revenue sharing for the final week-end this season. The split will see after expenses, the winning team get 48%, the NLSA receive 25%, the 2nd place team will get 15 %, 3rd place team will get – 7% and 4th place team will get - 5%.
Coach’s Corner Comments: Because we are the host province this season, there will be very little if any fundraising required in 2008 by the provincial winner. I make this statement realizing the winning team will receive $2,500 from registration and the fact that the winning team now will receive 48% of the gate on the final week-end. This gate revenue from the final week-end should equate to approximately $20,000. So combine those figures and you will have approximately $22,500 for the winner to participate in the Nationals. This should be more than enough funds to participate in the Nationals finals at home. These figures were derived on the assumption that I feel we will get approximately 10,000 fans for these four games. I feel we will get at least 2,000 fans for each of the two quarter-final games. Then you will get another 2,000 fans for the semi-final contest. Finally, I feel that you will get a minimum of 4,000 fans for the Challenge Cup Final. Next I used the fact that the NLSA is to charge $6.00 per game for every man, woman and child that is in attendance at the gamers. So when you do the math and multiply 10,000 fans at $6.00 a person you should get gross revenue for this tournament running at approximately $60,000. I also based these figures on the fact that the NLSA could charge nearly $20,000 to use towards their expenses.
Item# 7: Brian Walsh retired as business manager for the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association.
Coach’s Corner Comments:Most people know Brian Walsh for what he brought to the sport of soccer as a referee or a coach. He was always a guy that introduced himself with a smile. I know Brian Walsh maybe a little more. I remember in 2004, shortly after Brian took over the business manager position, when both he and Bob Antle came to the St. Lawrence 100th Anniversary celebrations to sell tickets to try and clean up the financial woes that he had just inherited in his new position. Brian Walsh has been involved with soccer for all the right reasons. During his tenure he has improved the financial situation and when this guy talks soccer, he addresses the situations with great sense of pride and integrity.
These are some of the occurrences that have transpired and I’m positive, as the season progresses there will be more. But the beauty of it all is the right you have to express your opinion and the right to inform the fans. It is only by informing the fans that they have a good knowledge of what is actually happening. This in turn will allow the fans to have an opinion and a right to express their voice. So let’s get the ball rolling this season.