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Adult soccer leagues consider amalgamating

Tonight at 7:15 at the North Cariboo Senior Soccer League clubhouse, the findings of a 15-month feasibility study to consider amalgamating the city's three adult soccer leagues will be revealed in a question-and-answer session.
The North Cariboo Senior Soccer League kicked off its season with an icebreaker tournament over the weekend at North Cariboo Field. Moxies, left, took on Subway in one of the games Sunday. A proposal to amalgamate the men's league with the other two adult soccer leagues in the city, the Prince George Women's Soccer Association and the B.C. Indoor Soccer League, is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. at North Cariboo clubhouse.

Tonight at 7:15 at the North Cariboo Senior Soccer League clubhouse, the findings of a 15-month feasibility study to consider amalgamating the city's three adult soccer leagues will be revealed in a question-and-answer session.
The executive of one of those leagues – the B.C. Indoor Soccer League – is recommending its members reject the idea of joining forces with the North Cariboo men's league under one umbrella, which would also include the Prince George Women's Soccer Association (PGWSA).
Dana Walls, president of the B.C. Indoor Soccer League (BCISL), supports the idea of blending the two outdoor leagues but says there's "minimal benefit to the BCISL."
"We are very much in support of the talks, but in my opinion, it doesn't make sense for the indoor league to amalgamate," said Walls.
Walls says the biggest challenge the 632-player BCISL faces is it lacks its own indoor facility and amalgamation offers no guarantees that will ever happen. All league games are played October to April at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre fieldhouse at UNBC.
"We're an adult league and we're lower on the priority list so we have to play all our games at 9 and 10 p.m., and it's expensive (the league pays $100 per hour per indoor field)," said Walls. "We deal with zero flexibility in game times at the facility we play at, a lack of field maintenance and poor customer service."
The PGWSA wants to join with the men's league to share administrative costs while working out of one centralized office which would manage field bookings and referee assignments. It would give the women's league equal access to the current men's clubhouse and lounge. Women's teams currently have no permanent structure in place at Michelle Lamarche Field but do have access to the North Cariboo change rooms and in return pay some of the maintenance costs with the NCSSL.
"Other than stagnant enrollment, the men already have more than enough fields (two) for their use and we have our clubhouse paid for, so we're pretty good to stay on our own," said NCSSL president Matthew Thomson. "But at the same time, more members will give us more clout and let's be honest, we need more members. We have a liquor establishment and most guys like to drink when there are women in the bar. With our expenses, the men's league has been losing a little money every year because we've been doing improvements, like the heaters on the balconies.
"We have a decent bank account, but the women have very little expenses and their membership would help offset expenses to make a bit of profit every year."
Thomson says some of the older members of the men's league are reluctant to give up total control of the building they constructed in 1998. They've taken ownership of it, have paid off the mortgage and are not convinced amalgamation is a good idea.
"By having the women join us, there is cost distribution and we would not have to raise rates, but we would be giving up 50 per cent control of the fields, clubhouse and change rooms," said Thomson. "The older crowd did a lot of the fundraising and a lot of the applications and a lot of the blood, sweat and tears and played on the old Rotary gravel field and they have a vested ownership that they don't want to lose. Whereas the younger group, half of them don't come up for beers. Splitting the costs on a clubhouse they don't even use is not a big deal to them and it improves the membership and adds women to the mix."
Virginia Ashley, vice-president of the PGWSA, declined comment until after tonight's meeting.
The nine-member committee, formed in February 2016, includes three representatives from each of the three leagues.
Walls wanted to delay tonight's information session to allow more time to work with the city to determine the cost to build an adult indoor soccer facility. If the three leagues were blended, she said it would make sense to build that facility adjacent to the North Cariboo and PGWSA fields, just off 15th Avenue west of the Aquatic Centre. If the BCISL remains on its own, an alternate site could be found.
As a player in the women's league, Walls favours joining forces with the North Cariboo men's league. The PGWSA has money saved to pay for lights on one of its two fields next to the North Cariboo fields and she said the league is considering putting up its own clubhouse but knows it would make more economic sense to join up with the men. She would rather see the lighting project budget, an estimated $150,000, spent on improving the field right next to the North Cariboo clubhouse, which would be easier to wire than running cables to one of the two women's fields.
"We could utilize a field that has the electrical (infrastructure) already set up for it, it's just a matter of putting up poles and lights," said Walls. "The men's and women's league could also share an administrator. Right now, for the women's league, that's all volunteer hours, and that's a lot. It's too much for a volunteer position.
"The men's clubhouse is plenty large enough to support the men's and women's leagues."
Following tonight's meeting, which also serves as the NCSSL's annual general meeting, the three leagues will each hold town hall meetings in June for their members to discuss the amalgamation topic. Players from all three leagues will determine whether it will happen or not in a vote at the North Cariboo clubhouse on July 17.

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