Ryan Wilkes, a local teacher from England who’s passionate about soccer, said he struggled with the lack of an adult soccer team when he moved to Burns Lake in 2015.
“The youth soccer program here is fantastic and is getting bigger and better each year, but for adults there was no option apart from our drop-in sessions,” he said.
After noticing a high interest in Burns Lake’s drop-in soccer practices last winter, Wilkes started looking at leagues and teams throughout the region to compete against this spring. That’s when he heard about the Smithers’ Soccer League.
“I found out the league’s structure and spoke to them about our potential interest in it.”
Wilkes then started a Facebook page called the ‘Burns Lake adult soccer team’ to see if there would be enough interest to enter both men’s and women’s teams into the league.
“Within two weeks we seemingly had enough interest for a men’s team, so I started collecting registrations.”
By the beginning of June, the new team had 19 men registered.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have enough interest to form a women’s team this year, but it is definitely something we are hoping to pull together in the future,” said Wilkes.
The diverse team includes a high-school exchange student from France, a local resident from Mauritius (an Indian Ocean island), university students who are back for the summer, local teachers and forestry workers.
The team has already competed in two league games. Although they lost the first one, the second game helped the team build their confidence.
“Our second game we were down 3-0 with 20 minutes to play, but ended up winning 4-3; it was an incredible comeback and we were all on cloud nine at the end of it,” described Wilkes. “After playing our first two games and seeing how we are working together and beginning to gel more as a team, I am more than confident of us holding our own this year.”
Wilkes believes it will be great for Burns Lake to have an adult soccer team for men, and possibly a women’s team in the future.
“It gives our graduating players something to look forward to once they are finished with youth soccer,” he said. “It’s also a chance for our younger players, and most importantly the community, to see our local coaches, parents, teachers and workers actually competing against different towns.”
“As for being valuable for our team members, I have had multiple messages and thanks from them just for giving Burns Lake this opportunity,” he added.
Registration for the men’s team is closed for this year. However, Wilkes says both men and women who are interested in playing in the future should contact him at email@example.com, or join the team’s Facebook page.