Only a few days before the Powell River men’s seven-a-side spring soccer league season began, its founder, Dean Thorsell, put team rosters together in time for the start of play on Wednesday, May 3.
“We have eight teams right now, which is what we’ve had in our league for the last three years,” said Thorsell. “I put the teams together kind of last minute.”
As league organizer, Thorsell matches players with teams and takes care of game scheduling, but on the field the league is largely player-driven.
Games are not super serious, but still competitive, according to Thorsell, which keeps it fun for players with broad age differences and skill levels, and sometimes sporadic commitment.
On occasion, not enough players are available to fill a roster, which is okay because games at Brooks Secondary School’s turf field are played under different rules than official soccer, said Thorsell.
Seven-a-side is a faster-paced game due to a tighter playing area and more are goals scored; that makes it more fun, he added.
“We play on half a field and there are no offsides,” said Thorsell. “We play kick-ins from the sides instead of throw-ins and we sub on the fly.”
At any given time during the game, a player can come out and be replaced without a stoppage in play.
“There is a no slide tackling rule to protect the young guys, because we have players all the way down to U14 playing,” said Thorsell.
Neil Bastock, who plays for the over-55 team, said he was amazed at how many players turn out each week and how evenly matched Thorsell made the teams to ensure league parity.
“It’s great because of the range in age,” said Bastock. “There were 14-year-old kids playing 55-year-olds; they have the speed and skills and we have the experience, apparently.”
Vancouver Island Soccer League’s Powell River Villa soccer club uses the seven-a-side league to keep players fit and scout potentially new and younger players.
“The main intent of why it was started was to keep players active during the off-season and keep guys playing,” said Villa president Jamie Zroback, “and to get the new crop out so they can be playing with our guys, and then be invited to training camp.”
Thorsell, also a defender for Villa, said there is always space for new players to the join the league.
“If any players want to come out, I will be more than happy to put them on a team, but we’re probably not going over eight teams,” he said. “Usually, at some point during the season, mostly toward the end, we have a drop in numbers. We’re sometimes scraping together six-a-side instead of seven. Sometimes, if there are extra players, we’ll play eight-a-side.”
Last year, Sliammon Braves finished first in the league and second to Powell River United FC in the playoffs.
For more information, search for Powell River Men’s 7-aside soccer on Facebook. League play continues until early July.