A decades-long tradition in Powell River, the Steve Steele Memorial Boxing Day Match, serves both to honour a pioneer in the soccer community and raise funds for cancer research.
The friendly match is played between players from Powell River Villa soccer club and a team made up of players from the men’s league and others who are home for the holidays.
“It’s always a great thing for the soccer community of Powell River, for people who like to watch and like to play,” said Villa president Jamie Zroback. “There are quite a few players who are in town for Christmas but live other places and participate in the game.”
The Boxing Day classic actually predates Steele. It was founded by George Richardson in 1968 and proceeds from the charity game were offered to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund’s Cup of Milk Fund. The game also became a popular reunion for people over the holidays.
Steele was heavily involved with all things soccer in Powell River. He was a player, coach and went on to do some refereeing. He was the initial coach of the Villa ladies’ soccer team, when there was one. When he succumbed to cancer, the soccer community turned the Boxing Day event into a remembrance of him in 1993 and directed the proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The game is traditionally held at Timberlane Park, but will be moved to Brooks Secondary School turf if the weather is bad, said Zroback.
“We hope lots of people attend,” he added. “And the soccer centre will be open after the game.”
The Steve Steele Memorial Boxing Day Match takes place at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, December 26.