Adult soccer leagues amalgamate

After years of discussions about the merits of blending the city's two adult leagues, the men and women who play outdoor soccer will be booting balls as part of the same organization in 2018.

The North Cariboo Senior Soccer League and Prince George Women's Soccer Association have decided to amalgamate under one organizational umbrella.

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The male members of the NCSSL voted 85 per cent in favour, while the PGWSA vote drew 87 per cent approval for the women to join forces with the men in one league.

"About a third of our membership voted - they were able to get enough information that they were able to make an informed vote on how two leagues combined together would look in the long term," said PGWSA vice-president Virginia Ashley.

"We want to look at developing our league and our membership and our officials together, there are a lot of benefits. It's a lot of work to manage a sport association."

Both leagues are hoping the amalgamation will raise the profile of adult soccer and result in more players signing up for soccer. The women will be gaining a clubhouse and parking as well as more accessibility to fields to offer more games for their players. Adding the women to the fold will increase the league's operational budget of the men to pay fixed costs to operate their building, add more field lighting and provide for new change-rooms for the clubhouse, which has been the home of the North Cariboo league since 1998.

The two leagues, which each had about 300 players in 2017, will now share administrative costs, working out of one centralized office which would manage field bookings and referee assignments. Those duties this past season were handled by volunteers on the board of the women's league, while North Cariboo had a paid part-time administrator for that purpose.

The new league, which has yet to decide on a name, will be based at the North Cariboo clubhouse off 15th Avenue just west of the Aquatic Centre, where the city's five adult soccer fields are located. The women have been playing on the two pitches at Michelle Lamarche Field, while the men have had a choice of three fields. Just one of the men's fields is equipped with lights. The women's league has been saving its proceeds for several years to pay for a lighting project.

"With an amalgamated league we'll be sharing the clubhouse and all five fields - the women don't have a paid administrator and we do so that way it will probably be a lot less work on their part as far as volunteers," said North Cariboo league secretary Glen Thompson.

"Our way, it will be shared expenses," Thompson said.

"They don't have a lot of expenses with the facility they have. We have the clubhouse that is expensive to maintain. It will be a benefit to everybody and that's why you see the 80-plus per cent in favour of amalgamating.

"We gain financially, it's going to cost them more money, but they're going to get more facility out of it.

"There's something in it for everybody."

Amalgamation talks began in earnest when a feasibility study was launched in February 2016.

The B.C. Indoor Soccer League was initially part of the amalgamation plan but that league decided in June to not take part in the August amalgamation vote.

The PGWSA was established in 1990.

The North Cariboo league's history dates back to the early 1960s.

The board structures, rules and regulations, constitution/bylaws and business plans used by both leagues are virtually identical, which simplifies the amalgamation process.

"As we all know, volunteerism tends to be the same people over and over again and a lot of the families are both part of the men's and women's leagues so it makes a lot of sense to join together an share those resources and work together with the city and the provincial body a little closer," said Ashley.

A six-member transition team was created to go the through legal requirements of the Societies Act, create a budget and decide on the operational structure of the league.

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