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Powell River Sports Hall of Fame member receives another honour

Larry Louie inducted into Soccer Hall of Fame of British Columbia
GIFTED ATHLETE: Larry Louie displays a plaque presented to him at the Soccer Hall of Fame of British Columbia, where he was recently inducted. He was also inducted earlier this year into the Powell River Sports Hall of Fame.

For the second time this year, Larry Louie has been inducted into a sports hall of fame.

This past June, the former soccer player was inducted into the Powell River Sports Hall of Fame, and in November, he became a member of the Soccer Hall of Fame of British Columbia.

According to the soccer hall of fame, Louie was an outstanding youth player, named the 1963 Sun Tournament “soccer boy” most valuable player, and later played for the Pacific Coast League’s North Shore United, the semi-pro Vancouver Spartans, and the Sliammon Braves. 

In an interview, Louie recalled the time after he was awarded the Sun Tournament soccer boy trophy. He was told that people were lined up outside the dressing room. Louie asked why and he was told that people wanted his autograph.

“I was a shy boy,” said Louie. “It was surprising to win.”

He got his start playing soccer in Sliammon (now Tla’amin) when his father drew targets on a building in the community for Louie to shoot at.

“He wanted me to get my kicking down pat,” said Louie. “I did that all the time, every morning before school, and one day when I was doing it, the coach of the Legion at the time saw me, I guess. He came over and asked if I wanted to play organized soccer. That’s how that started. I’ve got to hand it to the practice, I guess.”

Louie played juvenile soccer with Royal Canadian Legion, which is the team he won the Sun soccer boy award with in 1963.

He said youth soccer in the community was played at a high standard. Annually, there was the May Day tournament where teams from Vancouver Island and Vancouver travelled up.

“The place was just buzzing,” said Louie. “We played pretty good at home.”

As a teen, Louie moved to the Lower Mainland and pursued soccer vigorously.

“When I moved down there to school, one of the boys recognized me right away, so he phoned somebody and the next thing you know I was playing for the North Shore Burdett organization,” said Louie. “I started playing with the junior men and from there I was picked up to play in the Pacific Coast League.”

Louie was still in high school at the time.

“I was going up against some big guys, and they were faster, too,” said Louie. “They took their training seriously. These guys down in Vancouver were professionals.”

Louie’s position was striker in the forward line.

He said at the time, he was playing soccer just about seven days a week, plus his schooling, and work, at SuperValu at Park Royal. He said he was supposed to go to residential school but he didn’t and ended up in a boarding home in North Vancouver to follow his soccer aspirations.

Playing soccer in the Lower Mainland sharpened Louie’s soccer skills and he even tried out for the Vancouver Royals, later becoming the Vancouver Whitecaps, at the age of 16. Louie said it was a good experience.

Louie said he left Tla’amin when he was 15 and was in the Lower Mainland until he was 21, playing at the highest levels and even getting paid for his efforts on the pitch.

Soccer wasn’t big yet, professional league-wise in North America, during Louie’s best playing days, like it was in Europe.

Returning home

He ended up moving back from the Lower Mainland in his early 20s. He had been working at BC Tel for $7 an hour, but logging, in this region, was paying $20 an hour.

“It was a dangerous job but it was a good-paying job,” said Louie. “All my friends were bragging about their money and they were going on vacations. I came up for the logging.”

He continued to fly to the Lower Mainland for soccer games but it eventually became not feasible because he couldn’t train in a logging camp. He wanted to play here again but he was turned down when he wanted to play for the Sliammon Braves because he had played semi-professionally in Vancouver, and policy didn’t allow it. He finished playing soccer in the Lower Mainland.

Louie’s interest in soccer remains to this day. He has been following the World Cup of Soccer and watches avidly.

He also serves as a legislator with Tla’amin Nation and is interested in helping the nation with its self-governance.

Soccer Hall of Fame of BC secretary Roger Barnes said Louie was one of several Sun Tournament soccer boys from this region, so Louie came to notice with the hall of fame. Barnes said when Louie moved to North Vancouver he was playing in the highest level of play in the province.
“He was also the Sun soccer boy after only playing organized soccer for a year or two,” said Barnes. “He was obviously a standout of his time. He’s an exceptional athlete.”