Coach's Corner

Itís all but over!

Southern Gazette May 27. 2008

By Gord Dunphy

Itís all but over!

Am I shocked the Burin Peninsula is down to one senior soccer team in 2008? No, not really.

Am I saddened and disappointed the Burin Peninsula is only to have one senior soccer team this season? Yes, very much so!

Ever since the day the present format was introduced, where the Provincial Challenge Cup Championship would be competed for in a Provincial Challenge League, rather than have a regional winner declared first, the demise of Burin Peninsula soccer began.

By not having a regional winner representing the Burin Peninsula and competing against other regional winners for the title, players have lost their sense of pride in competing at local levels, fans have been cheated out of games and some supporters have lost interest. To maintain provincial soccer we must also have a regional soccer program.

Basically, thereís no way soccer can exist without having programs at the grassroots level.

I am sure if Lawn and St. Lawrence were to play each other today, at any form or level of senior soccer, the field would be alive and the fans would be sitting on ĎCritic Hillí, the same as the good old days.


Can anyone remember when the senior Burin Peninsula Championship was last competed for? I canít. Although, I do remember when the BPSA declared the winner between Marystown and St. Lawrence, while competing in Challenge Games Competition. Their games served as a dual purpose. First, the game would count as points in the Provincial Challenge Cup League and secondly, the goal total was added and then the Burin Peninsula Championship was declared. What a farce that was!


How about our Provincial All-Star soccer programs? I donít see any players of the status of Newfoundlandís hockeyís Daniel Cleary, Michael Ryder or Ryan Clowe develop from our soccer all-star programs. For years the Burin Peninsula Soccer Association, under the guidance of their Minor Soccer Chair, Vince Pickett, promoted the all-star concept. But despite all of the All-Star promoting, thereís one association on the Burin Peninsula that stood tall and continued to oppose the all-star program. To this very day a kid from that community would much rather play for his home community than wear the colors of any all-star program. That association is the St. Lawrence Soccer Association. I remember back in 1976 when Al Slaney, Joe Turpin, Frank Haskell and Rudy Slaney were told by the hierarchy from the Newfoundland Soccer Association if they were to play with the Provincial U-18 All-Star Team, they would have to relinquish their playing duties with the Laurentians. When push came to shove all of these players disagreed with this request. Their loyalty at that time was with to St. Lawrence. Then came Allan Ross who stepped in as the coach of the Provincial U-18 team. He was forced to get those rules changed, bent or do whatever it took. In the end the result was the Laurentiansí players were permitted play for both clubs. Folks, it is no coincidence the Laurentians survived the huge promoters of the all-star program and are the talk of soccer in throughout Canada at any senior amateur level.


Am I surprised the Burin Eagles folded this season? No, I am not! First of all letís not forget Marystown United folded just two seasons after winning the Provincial Challenge Cup. Marystown United, led by Coach Vince Pickett, brought players into their system from all over the province. Yes, they won a cup but they lost dearly. In 2007 they folded and pulled out of provincial senior soccer. Was this situation really addressed? No! Letís not forget in 2008 the Burin Eagles went winless all season. As they were winless in 24 games, the Eagles didnít really exist last year. They were there in uniform and in name only. Generally, with the exception of a few poised experienced players, these kids were thrown to the wolves at a very early level Ė far too early. What did this team gain by the 2007 experience? Nothing!


The biggest reason of all I feel Burin has folded this season is the fact Salt Pond native Albert Anstey is another person who has become involved with the All-Star program. Albert has been selected to coach the 2009 NL Canada Games Team, and his energies are to be with that team for 2008 and 2009. Iím sure if Albert wasnít coaching the NL entry in the Canada Games, Burin would have survived.


The NLSA needs to review the state of senior soccer in this province before it dies, the same way the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey League has died in the past. To get players interested and try and maintain a soccer future, I would suggest all Challenge Cup teams compete against each other on a mid-weekly basis, and all clubs be guaranteed every second weekend off. Todayís players need a life too. If we donít address these concerns, there may not be a league to be concerned with in the near future.