There is no place like home and on Sunday, September 9, Powell River Villa FC comes back to its own home after a two-year absence.
The Great Blue Herons’ nest at Powell River Recreation Complex was saved a couple of years ago but Villa almost became extinct when its home, Timberlane Park, became the alternate site for the track.
Its first year was an attempt to maintain the Sunday schedule at a venue past its prime and in the second year attendance plummeted with the Saturday evening schedule at Brooks Turf field.
“There was a lot of extra work by everyone in our organization,” recalled Villa manager Jamie Zroback, “but despite our best efforts to adjust, it really hurt us in revenue and our fan base. Obviously, we’re extremely excited to get back to Timberlane Park and our traditional Sunday afternoon games.”
Division two looks to be the most competitive of all in the Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) despite Juan de Fuca folding after relegation from division one. Nine teams remain and Zroback promises a tight race and quality soccer for Villa fans.
“There is less separation in division two than even division one,” he explained, “and there are a lot of class teams. The two that came up from division three are very strong with a lot of former division one players on them and the team that moved down from division one is a decent side too, so it’s going to be a very tight division.
“We finished very strong last year,” he added, “and I think we’re going to have a great team this year.”
It looked bleak earlier, but Villa has the commitment of veterans like David Bertrand and Joel Harry for the entire year.
While those two players join keepers Douglas Rivera and Matt Liknes in the lineup, veterans Kyle Vasseur, Rob Devlin, James Smart and Jordan Peters have either hung up their boots or moved from Powell River.
“Some of our guys are living out of town,” Zroback said, “but what we’ve learned is that we have to have a larger pool to make sure that we have enough players for the entire season.”
Some of those players were called up from Villa Reserve, a team that is waiting for a decision on the status of the Senior Men’s Soccer League this year.
Restrictions on eligibility have stretched Villa a little thin in the past and the important link for young players hinges on the survival of the men’s league and more cooperation.
“In order for us to have a team in the men’s league,” explained Zroback, “they are going to have to be more accommodating because there are not enough guys to go around.”
While that issue remains somewhat cloudy the skies have cleared up for Villa and its game at 1:30 pm on Sunday against Saanich Fusion.
In terms of finances and Villa’s future Zroback stressed, “The return to Timberlane is a big weight off our shoulders. It was very difficult for those two years but we encourage people to come out and enjoy the game and the view from the most beautiful park in the VISL.”