IROQUOIS – More than 250 soccer players descended on the South Dundas Soccer fields over the span of five days to close out the 2021 Summer season.
Instead of the usual two-day World Cup tournament held at the end of July, the South Dundas Soccer Association adopted a new format for 2021. It held its World Cup playoffs from August 17-21. The format change was due to the late season start and COVID-19 pandemic spacing restrictions.
“Spacing the playoff out like this helped with adhering to spectator requirements, and it also took some of the pressure out of what is normally a really busy season end,” said SDSA President Phillip Blancher.
Teams in all six divisions were seeded into the playoffs based on the regular season standings. The semi-final games were held on weekday evenings, with the Championship and Consolation finals held Saturday. The U5 division played both the semi-final and final matches on Saturday as well.
“There was a lot of great soccer played over the week,” Blancher explained. “Three of the six finals went into extra time and two of those were minutes away from a shoot out.”
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the club register less players than usual, but other than a few extra protocols for contact tracing and hand sanitizing, the season operated much as it had any other year.
Blancher credited the work of the volunteer coaches, referees, and board members for making the season possible.
“After 17 months of restrictions, lock-downs, and a lack of activities for families, it was just great to be back on the soccer pitch again,” he said.
The summer heat wave also had an impact on the club playoffs with the SDSA implementing more frequent water breaks, offering free water bottles, and trying to ensure players were substituted on and off the field frequently.
One challenge for the club this year was arranging games around other activities with many summer sports starting up at the same time. Some games were moved in cooperation with the Williamsburg Pioneers baseball club so youth players didn’t have to choose between one sport or the other.
“It’s great when we can work with other sports like the Pioneers to accommodate each other,” Blancher said.
Now that the summer season is over, the SDSA has its sights set on trying to run a fall soccer season. It opened registration for a six week season beginning after students return to school in September, and running until the week after Thanksgiving. The cost is $40 per player with some games played weekday evenings, and others on weekends.
Blancher said the club plans to offer five levels (U6, U9, U12, U15, and U18) depending on registration levels.
Registration is open now until September 2 and is on the club’s website at www.southdundassoccer.org.
Playoff final results
- U5 Division: Spain – Champions, England – 2nd, Portugal – 3rd, and Canada – 4th.
- U7 Division: Uruguay – Champions, Germany – 2nd, Iceland – 3rd, and Wales – 4th.
- U9 Division: France – Champions, Belgium – 2nd, Argentina – 3rd, and USA – 4th.
- U11 Division: Ireland – Champions, Netherlands – 2nd, Finland – 3rd, and Scotland – 4th.
- U14 Division: Italy – Champions, Honduras – 2nd, Sweden – 3rd, and South Korea – 4th.
- U18 Division: Brazil – Champions, and Norway – 2nd.
Editor’s Note – Photos of the six championship teams were published in the August 25 issue of The Leader. Out of respect for photo consent, the photos will not be published online.