It was a hard-fought game for more than 40 players between the ages of 20 and 68, but for the 400 soccer fans who attended the 25th annual Steve Steele Memorial Boxing Day game, the highlight was being able to honour all the people in Powell River’s history who have contributed to the sport.
“Bill [Cornwall] and I were recognized for our work, but we were really up there to represent everyone who came before us,” said Iain Livingstone, who coached Villa Alumni Select. “I could name at least 20 people who have passed away now who have done just as much as we have.”
“For example, we wouldn’t have been playing this game if George Richardson hadn’t started the Cup of Milk tourney in 1968,” added Bill Cornwall, who coached Steele’s Strikers. “Back then, they raised about $60 for charity, and with this event, we raised over $2,000. It was a great way to celebrate 25 years.”
The Cup of Milk tournament was renamed in 1993 for Steve Steele, who was an integral part of soccer in Powell River until his death. Cornwall received a card from Steele’s son Jeff after the match.
“Thank you so much for your efforts over all these years to keep Dad’s name alive in Powell River,” read the note. “It really means a lot to me; a sincere thank-you from our entire family.”
The event raised $2,200, with the proceeds split between the Salvation Army ($1,000), Powell River Action Centre Food Bank ($1,000), and Powell River Community First Aid ($200). Community First Aid was on site for the match, but luckily their services were not required.
“It was a cold and dry day, and everyone went home without any injuries, so that made it even more successful,” said Cornwall.
The final score was 3-2 for Villa Alumni Select. Dean Piccinin opened the scoring for the Strikers at 15 minutes of the first half, followed by another goal at 25 minutes by Darren Mousseau, leaving the Strikers up 2-0 at halftime.
Following the break, Villa Alumni Select came back with two goals by Scott Livingstone, and Mark Paul scored the winner with five minutes to go in the game.
“A gentleman came up to me after the game to tell me that he was blown away by the skills shown on both sides,” said Livingstone.
Organizer Steve Robertson wanted to extend his thanks to the community for helping with the event.
“We couldn’t have raised as much money as we did if not for our sponsors,” he said. “They were so generous with donating prizes and really made the game happen. Our piper Aiden DeVilliers and our singer Sonya Nielsen were exceptional, and the U12 boys soccer team who sold the 50/50 tickets did a great job.”
Robertson was also happy with the turnout by fans and with the interest shown by members of the community.
“I had to tell lots of people that we were full on players,” he said. “It just goes to show you how much soccer means to this community, and how many people want to continue to be involved in the game.”