Special to The Aurora
The Labrador West Minor Soccer Association has scored its biggest goal yet.
Thanks to the association’s relentless efforts, the ball has started rolling on upgrades to the town’s minor soccer building.
At a press conference last Tuesday at the Two Seasons Inn in Labrador City, MP Peter Penashue and provincial Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O’Brien announced the federal government is investing over $70,000 in the development of an expanded clubhouse and field maintenance storage facility. The province is contributing over $43,000 to the project.
The Town of Labrador City and the Labrador West Minor Soccer Association are together contributing $35,000 to the project while private sector cash and in-kind contributions total $63,000.
Soccer association president Tony Reccord said his group has been lobbying for the upgrades for about four years. There have been numerous setbacks and disappointments during that time, he said, which makes the announcement all the more exciting.
Reccord told The Aurora he’s pleased with the partnerships that have made the project possible.
“We fundraised $10,000 ourselves as a non-profit volunteer association to put towards this. We didn’t just go looking for handouts. And we got some fantastic donations from local businesses,” he said in a telephone interview.
HJ O’Connell is doing the ground preparation and foundation work (in-kind). R M & S provided the initial building design, are providing in-kind help for the stairs and donated $25,000.
With $10,000 in their pockets and the commitment of the local businesses, the association approached Labrador City’s Town Council. Reccord said council not only backed the project financially but did the necessary engineering work to allow it to proceed.
“We’ve also gotten several other smaller donations and the provincial and federal governments’ announcement today is the final piece of the puzzle to allow us to start construction this summer,” Reccord said.
The expanded clubhouse will be great for the players while the field maintenance storage facility will mean that Reccord will finally get to use his own shed for his own purposes rather than to store soccer gear.
He’s not the only one that has been storing equipment, he said. Others on the executive have given up space in their spare bedrooms and basements.
The new facility will be a two-story structure. The bottom level will be shared by b the town and the association. A conference room and office will be located on the top level.
Over 450 children and youth registered for minor soccer in Labrador West in 2012, making it the largest of any youth organization in Labrador West.
The association is for children and youth aged 3-18. It operates year-round, offering both indoor and outdoor soccer programs as well as an intensive technical program for players who are identified as having the potential to compete provincially.
“Right now we have six players named to provincial rosters,” said Reccord. “That technical program and our developing much stronger ties with our governing body the NLSA (Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association) has really allowed us to contribute on the provincial level and we’re really proud of those players.”
Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford says the town is also proud of its athletes and is pleased to partner with the association and the provincial and federal governments as well as community partners to make the facility a reality.
Oldford says her town invests heavily in recreational initiatives.
The town owns and maintains the soccer field. The grass turf requires a lot of maintenance as well as equipment. The new facility will allow the town to store its equipment on site, Oldford said, which will make it easier to do the upkeep and maintenance on a regular basis.
“The soccer group is a great group of volunteers and a phenomenal asset for the community. While they raise money for soccer they also support other causes. They’ve worked hard on this project… it’s nice to start to see it come to fruition,” the Mayor said.
Oldford said the new facility will help the association support its growing number of participants.
“It will allow the sport to grow possibly even bigger. Anytime you can see youth and adults enjoying a great game and getting some physical health, it’s a positive thing.”
Reccord expects ground preparation to start as soon as the ground is thawed.
He’s optimistic that a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility will coincide with the association’s closing tournament in September.
“That’s going to be a pretty big day. We have a lot of thank-yous to give to a lot of people.”