This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Steve Steele Memorial Boxing Day soccer game, and organizers are encouraging the community to come out to enjoy a great game of soccer and honour three of Powell River’s soccer legends.
“At last year’s game, I had a conversation with Iain Livingstone and Bill Cornwall about how to make this year special,” said Steve Robertson, who is organizing the event. “I didn’t tell them at the time, but I immediately thought that honouring their contributions to soccer would be a great way to celebrate 25 years.”
Livingstone and Cornwall have been involved in Powell River’s soccer community for more than five decades, and have coached and played on a variety of teams over that time. They, together with the late Elvio Cramaro, will be honoured for their service to soccer in Powell River during a halftime ceremony.
Robertson said he hopes the community will take the time to extend personal thanks to the two men before and after the game.
“As long as it doesn’t interfere with our coaching,” said Livingstone with a laugh. “We’ve still got a game to play!”
In past years, the Boxing Day game has showcased a match between Powell River Villa and a select team of all-stars from the local men’s league. However, since the men’s league no longer exists, fielding a competitive team has become more difficult, especially now that Villa is in the top division of the Vancouver Island Soccer League. As a result, organizers are returning to an older format for the game.
“Iain and I will each be coaching a team of soccer alumni,” said Cornwall. “My team, Stevie’s Steelers, will be mostly made up of people who played in the senior men’s league, and those who previously played for Villa will be on Livingstone Legends. There’s lots of soccer talent here, and it will make for a great competitive game.”
The Boxing Day game begins at 1:15 pm on Thursday, December 26, at Timberlane Park, regardless of weather conditions. Admission is by donation, but with a minimum donation of $5 per person (including children), spectators will receive a door prize ticket.
“We have some amazing prizes to give away,” said Robertson, “and our gate admission proceeds will be donated to the food bank and the Salvation Army to help those in our community who need a little help.”
More than anything, Robertson, Livingstone and Cornwall hope the community will use the game as an opportunity to reconnect with people they haven’t seen in a while.
“The Boxing Day game used to be a reunion for the soccer community, when young people came back from university and those who have moved away come back for the holidays,” said Livingstone. “It used to be a big community event, and that’s something we hope to bring back.”
Steele, the game’s namesake, was involved in all aspects of soccer in Powell River for many years, including as a player, coach and referee. After he died of cancer, the soccer community dedicated the event in recognition of his achievements.
Anyone with questions about the Boxing Day game, including those who might want to play on one of the teams, can contact Robertson at 604.413.0660.