Coach's Corner

Only in Newfoundland

Southern Gazette August 29.2006

By Gord Dunphy

gorddunphy@email.com




Only in Newfoundland

The newly renovated King George V complex has been officially opened and what a beautiful development it is. This facility is absolutely amazing.

King George V finally gives our province a state of the art facility we should be very proud of. With that being said, how could the officials of the NLSA not have the foresight to schedule both the senior men’s and women’s final to be played at this brand new venue this Labor Day Weekend?

LOOKING BACK

I’m sure the first thing Doug Redmond, the President of the NLSA, or Kev Pittman, the Commissioner of the Challenge Cup League, would say is the hosting of the provincial finals is done on a rotating basis. To me, this reason holds very little validity, especially after visiting the new field.

There is no doubt past policy for hosting our provincial senior men’s tournaments was scheduled on a rotational basis. I acknowledge this, but are we too small-minded to make further changes?

I do not know nor understand the reason, but I feel it is absolutely ridiculous for the King George V complex not to be utilized this Labor Day weekend.

HISTORY OF HOSTING

Back in the early 1990s the host of the Challenge Cup Final was awarded to the first place finisher in round one of the Challenge Cup. Then in 1997, after St. Lawrence had clinched first place in 1992-1996, the NLSA changed this format.

I feel this happened because influential members of the NLSA executive used their voting strength and voted for changes because the St. Lawrence Laurentians had continuously won first place and were repeatedly hosting the Challenge Cup final. This appeared to frustrate the teams from the Avalon and the NLSA executive.

As a result, a new format was put into place. It suggested the Avalon Peninsula would host one year and the following year the Burin Peninsula would host. When hosting, the Avalon representative would play the final at the King George V, while the host of the Burin Peninsula final was to be played at the home of the top place Burin Peninsula team. I think this was a reasonable compromise.

After all, it is basically only the Burin and Avalon Peninsulas that have kept the sport of senior men’s soccer alive in our province. I do realize the Western region has had spurts where they have played at the senior level, but I really do not think soccer was ever a dominant sport in Corner Brook or any of the other remaining regions of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MOUNT PEARL TO HOST

In 2001, the policy regarding the hosting of the provincial final changed again. The Mount Pearl Soccer Association felt, because it was a separate region from the St. John’s Soccer Association, it should be given the right to host the Provincial Challenge Cup final.

When this proposal was brought to the Annual General Meeting all clubs based out of the Avalon Peninsula supported it, knowing full well once this was adopted, as long as a team from the Avalon was one of the top four finalists, they would only have to travel once out of every three years to the Burin Peninsula to play in the provincial final weekend.

MORE CONTROVERSY

To add further controversy to this hosting fiasco, when the Burin Peninsula was awarded hosting rights for the 2004 Challenge Cup Tournament, the Burin Peninsula Soccer Association, led by President Newman Bartlett and its members, then sanctioned by the NLSA, allowed the semi-final contest to be played in Marystown despite the fact St. Lawrence was the first place finisher.

However, this year when Burin finished fourth at the end of round one, the NLSA allowed them to host the three-team tournament with the winning team to advance to the Labour Day weekend tournament in Mount Pearl. However, both games in this tournament were played in Burin.

What puzzles me is the double standard the NLSA has set. I would love for someone to explain the motive behind this discrepancy in reasoning.

ONLY IN NEWFOUNDLAND

There is no doubt the NLSA, in 2006, has backed itself into a corner and the issue of hosting may well be discussed throughout the tournament. As I see it, ‘all’ Provincial Challenge Cup Finals that are played on the Avalon from this time forward, should be played on the King George V complex.

In past years, whether the final was being played on King George V or at Mount Pearl really made no difference. There was not a big distinction between the two fields, except for seating capacity. However, with the new 6,500 person seating ability and field surface, the complex in Mount Pearl is no longer comparable.

If the Challenge Cup final is played on the Burin Peninsula, it should be played at the home of the top Burin Peninsula Challenge Cup team. If, in the future, any community on the Burin Peninsula were to get a facility close to the King George V complex, that new facility should become the home of the Challenge Cup Final if the Burin Peninsula is to host.

COACH’S CORNER AWARDS

All-Stars – Goalie: N. J. Edwards; Fullbacks: John Kelly, Steven Croft, Colin Power, Clinton Edwards; Mid-field: Rudy Norman, Shane Antle, Paul Slaney, Jeremy Babstock; Strikers: Justin Pickford, John Hawco.

Coach of the Year – Albert Anstey

MVP – Rudy Norman

Top Defender – John Kelly

Most Gentlemanly – Jon Hawco

Top Goalie – N. J. Edwards

Rookie of the Year – Justin Pickford

Coach’s Corner Challenge Cup Final Prediction:

St. Lawrence – 5, Mount Pearl - 0