Scrambling for players at the start of preseason is nothing new for Powell River Villa. Three weeks into open tryouts for the soccer club the number of players attending is improving. Despite that, the team has had to cancel its first two exhibition games of the season.
Villa was scheduled to play at home against Campbell River at 1:30 pm on Saturday, August 20, but the visiting team had to pull out. This after Villa had to cancel a game in Campbell River last weekend due to not having enough players to field a team.
“We were scheduled to have an exhibition game away on Saturday, August 13,” said Villa coach Mario Paul. “But due to low numbers and lack of goalkeeping we had to postpone that until a later date.”
While the team might still reschedule the exhibition games, according to club president Jamie Zroback, everything else regarding the operation of the club is ready for the 2016/2017 Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) season.
“As an executive and organization, I don’t think we’ve been stronger in the last six or seven years; everything is taken care of from that standpoint,” said Zroback. “Our coach is in place and doing all he can. Given the demographics of town, we may be struggling a bit for numbers.”
Paul said he is concerned with the number of players attending tryouts, but most VISL clubs share the same struggle early in preseason.
“We just have to work with what we have and sometimes it takes a little bit longer to get the ball rolling,” he said.
Players who have been attending tryouts include a combination of new and returning players.
“There are some new faces from out of town that will definitely help us moving forward,” said Paul. “How long they are going to be here, I’m not quite sure. As long as they are here we are going to make use of them.”
One of those new faces is Steve Smith, who played top-level soccer in New Zealand.
“I was playing for Tauranga City United, but the time and travel factor got to me after a while so I dropped down to play in lower leagues to enjoy a more well-rounded lifestyle,” said Smith. “It would be nice to stick around for the whole season, but I will only be here for the first few months, as my visa runs out before the end of the year.”
Paul said he is impressed with what he has seen in Smith’s skills and form and, for his part, Smith is enjoying the tryouts and looking forward to the time he will get to spend with the team.
“They seem like a good bunch of lads with the right attitude and a good team spirit,” he said. “There is some talent there, for sure, and if we can all link up on the field we should do well this season.”
Based on some young, talented players showing up for practice who are currently not eligible to play in the league, Paul is optimistic about Villa’s future.
“Some younger players who are not quite of age yet are out practising with us and are very, very talented,” he said. “Hopefully they will be able to help us in the future.
Players interested in trying out for Villa are invited to join training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7 pm on the turf field at Brooks Secondary School.