Fall soccer season kicks off September 10

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IROQUOIS – Less than two weeks remain before kick off of the second season for South Dundas Soccer’s fall soccer program.

This year’s fall soccer season starts September 10. It will run for seven weeks, and has over 170 soccer players signed up.

“This far surpassed the number we expected,” said Phillip Blancher, SDSA president. “It shows that there is a desire for more fall outdoor programming for youth in South Dundas.”

In 2021, the organization was able to run its first fall season. Sixty-three players in the U11 and U14 age groups played a six-week season with playoffs.

“The organization tried to offer fall soccer in the past but numbers were never quite enough to get any one level going,” Blancher explained. “We succeeded with two levels last year because we got creative with the format.”

Normally the organization ran leagues with a minimum of four teams. For the fall program, schedules and game length were worked out to allow for three-team leagues in the event numbers were not high enough to support four teams.

“It worked great,” Blancher said. “Players got more games out of the format, and more playing time. That’s a win-win in my books.”

For the 2022 fall season, the SDSA has expanded from two levels to five with players ranging from four to 18 years old. There are four teams each in the U6 and U9 leagues, and three teams each in the U11, U13, and U18 leagues.

To accommodate other sports and activities, scheduling soccer meant moving all activities to Saturday mornings again, but with a slightly later starting time. U18 players play at 9 a.m., U6 at 10 a.m., U11 and U13 players at 10:30 a.m., and U9 players at 11 a.m. Only the South Dundas soccer fields on Lakeview Drive will be used this fall.

Blancher said he was surprised that a number of players registered are from outside of South Dundas this fall – mainly from Prescott, North Dundas, South Stormont and Cornwall.

“We always have a few from outside of South Dundas register because our program times are different or they like the program offered by the SDSA,” he said. “Those numbers are higher this year.”

Team sizes are not the conventional 11 players per side format either. Teams have equal numbers and will play on smaller sized fields to make things work.

“Like many programs, you have to evolve with the times. If the community wants a program but you don’t quite have the numbers, then the program has to bend a bit. We’ve done that,” he said. “Our flexibility, and ability to offer something outdoors in the fall, attracted more people. If it gets kids more active in the sport, great! Let’s go!”

With program enrolment growing by more than two-and-a-half times, Blancher indicated they are having some growing pains.

“Sending out team lists took longer than I like, and I am still looking for coaches for a couple teams,” he said. “But everything will be ready to go for the first practices and games. It always is.”

Like many volunteer organizations, Blancher said that their numbers are dwindling when it comes to volunteers helping organize.

“It’s boiling down to just a few people doing the work, so juggling that with day jobs and other commitments is a challenge,” he said. “Talking to other organizations, we’re not alone in this. An extra pair of hands or two are always welcome.”

The SDSA fall season will run from September 10 to October 15, with playoffs happening on October 22.

Blancher said the organization is looking at an indoor pick-up program in the winter, and is in the preliminary stages of planning that now.

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