IROQUOIS – Preparations are nearing the starting whistle for South Dundas Soccer’s 27th season, which begins on May 20. This year, six leagues and 38 teams take to the soccer pitches in Iroquois for the 10 week summer season.
Club president Phil Blancher said getting things ready for the season have mostly gone well, with some new equipment getting its first use. The SDSA recently received two new pairs of soccer goals, fundraised through donations from community groups, service clubs, anonymous donors, and a financial contribution from the Municipality of South Dundas in the 2023 budget.
“I’m blown away by the generosity of these donations we’ve received towards the soccer goal replacement project,” Blancher said. “I’m looking forward to seeing those first goals scored by the players on those nets – hopefully not against the team I am coaching though.”
Two soccer pitches located on municipal land have new professional-grade soccer goals, set up by South Dundas Parks and Recreation for the club. The club is currently fundraising for the third-and-final set of goals, and hopes to have those within the next year – one year ahead of schedule.
New equipment is not the only change at the club. Some programming changes have been made to speed up the game at the younger levels. The youngest two leagues, Under-5 and Under-7, have adopted a kick-in, replacing the throw-in to restart play. This method is already used in indoor soccer and Futsal to quickly restart play after the ball crosses the touch line.
“Throw-ins are always the most challenging part of the game for the youngest players,” Blancher explained.
“By changing to a kick-in, it keeps the ball in play longer – and allows for more opportunities for player development.”
Another rule change for younger players introduces “on-the-fly” substitutions instead of changing players at each stoppage in play. Speeding up substations again means faster action on the soccer pitch and that teams have the ability to give more players playing time more often.
To support the new rules put in place, South Dundas Soccer has expanded its youth refereeing program to cover all six leagues. So far, 21 referees, most under age 18, are in training to be ready for the start of the season. Additionally there are over 20 students earning volunteer hours by working as coaches, in the canteen, or assisting with set up and clean up.
Blancher said the club is seeing more business support from within the community. This year, the club has four Gold Sponsors, and 11 silver sponsors – all which are local businesses in or around South Dundas. Gold sponsors include: Dundas Dairy Producers, Home Hardware Morrisburg, Landex Earthworks, and Morrisburg Building Supply. The club’s Silver Sponsors are: A+ Property Services, Bucket Hat Design, Canadian Tire Morrisburg, C Double J Harvesting, Laura’s Valu-Mart, Mullin Excavating, Northern Latitudes, Rick Beer Insurance, Smail Accounting Services, Sports Fix, and Thryv.
South Dundas Soccer also has continued support from the Tim Hortons TimBits sports program, which is the season sponsor for its U5, U7, and U9 leagues. Joining this year is BMO through its Local Soccer Club Sponsorship Program. The bank is the season sponsor for the U11, U14, and U18 levels.
“The support from all our sponsors this year means our club will not have to increase our player fees for at least the next year, keeping this program among the most affordable in the region,” Blancher said.
With late registration open until May 19, the club has 422 players currently rostered on its 38 teams – only two players shy of its 2022 registration level. Players can sign up online to begin the season through the clubs’ website at southdundassoccer.org/2023-registration