Helping the game grow

By Simon Fudge/ The growth of soccer in British Columbia has seen significant developments take place in organization and new facilities across the province. Part of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC mission is 'to help grow the sport of soccer in BC and Canada' by partnering with local clubs that play a crucial role in the game's development, such as the building of new facilities. One such project that the Whitecaps are supporting is in 100 Mile House in BC's Central Interior. The 100 Mile House & District Soccer Association (OMHSA) have begun construction on the first phase of their four-pitch Soccer Park after reaching their initial fundraising target of $337,000. With plans to complete the project in three phases, the $1 million Soccer Park will include four full-size fields, a clubhouse, change rooms and meeting rooms. OMHSA communications and fundraising director Werner Heine explains the process to making their Soccer Park become a reality. "With the first phase of the project, the drainage will need to be done for all four fields," Heine told "This phase will see the base and seeding done for the first field, as well as the protective fencing of the asset." Funding for Phase One came from various sources, including private donations, local service clubs, and sizable grants from the District of 100 Mile House, Cariboo Regional District, and the BC Lottery Corporation. "To be honest, you always hoped you would reach this stage," Heine admitted. "Now that it is a reality, it is more than what I expected." With more funds needed to complete the project, OMHSA are currently selling tickets in 100 Mile House for the July 26 game between the Whitecaps men and Carolina RailHawks at Swangard Stadium. Tickets are available for $18, with $7 from every ticket sale going to the OMHSA Soccer Park fund. Along with other fundraising initiatives, Heine hopes their efforts lead to further grants being received by their association in the future. "We have various fundraising initiatives, such as a raffle and auctions, while the Whitecaps game is another event that will help us raise some money," he said. "The tickets are available to the community as a whole, but a number of the tickets are being bought by parents who want to see their kids have the opportunity to see a Whitecaps game. We've also received a signed jersey from the Whitecaps women's team, which will be one of prizes in our fundraising raffle. It not only gives us a nice prize to give away, but it also helps promote the Whitecaps here in 100 Mile House." The July 26 game will also see young players from the OMHSA participate in a 'Kickin' with the 'Caps' night experience. The evening's festivities include a professional pre-game clinic run by Whitecaps players and coaches on the Swangard Stadium pitch, a pre-game visit to the Whitecaps dressing room, being the player escorts for both the Whitecaps and visiting teams before kickoff, as well as being the pre-game flag-bearers. During the match, 100 Mile House youngsters will act as the official ball boys and girls, and the youngsters will also participate in mini-games on the Swangard pitch at halftime. The OMHSA will also receive proceeds from the game's 50/50 ticket sales. Having traveled with 100 Mile House teams to Whitecaps games in previous years, Heine is delighted that his association will have an official role at the game in July. "I think the event will be very successful when we come down this summer," he said. Click here for more information on the OMHSA Soccer Park Project Click here for information on the 'Kickin' with the 'Caps' program