BY IAN THORPE

Football at various levels is holding its own right on the sports pages and our main local organization is preparing for a busy fall season …

Feeling comfortable despite the challenges of COVID is the Nanaimo United Football Club, the umbrella organization for youth and senior football in the region. Registration for the autumn season, which starts this month, is now possible for all age groups.

Governance oversight for the organization is exercised by a Board of Directors led by President Michael Wassermann and Vice President Jessica Kirby. The various programs are managed by a large number of staff. Jason Coates is the Executive Director, Daragh Fitzgerald is the Technical Director, and Reid Davidson is the Administrative Director. Other lead actors include Jade Richardson, Cara Dunlop, Daniel De Wet, Geoff Hackett, Bobbie Taylor, Kevin Lindo and Ross Cameron is the head judge.

Nanaimo United’s primary youth program is the Central Island Soccer League for athletes aged U4-U18 from the Nanaimo, Gabriola, Mid Isle and Oceanside areas. Within this age range, there are a variety of Level 3 Club System Levels to allow players to learn the game in a safe and fun environment. Things start with the U4-U6 Happy Cleats program, which uses stationary activities as an introduction to the sport, resulting in little three-on-three games for U6s. The registration fee is $ 225. For U7-U8 players, there are boys ‘and girls’ teams with practice evenings and Saturday mini-games, in which mastering is the main focus. It costs $ 276 to register and the games are four on four with no goalkeeper.

The tech focus continues in the U9-U10 divisions with a fee of $ 312 and the U11-U13 groups with a registration cost of $ 334. For U9-U10 the game is six against six with goalkeepers and for U11 and older games it is eight against eight with goalkeepers. Age groups U14-U18 introduce the tactical side of the game as skills develop. The registration fee is $ 334 for these Tier 3 teams. At all levels, the coaching is carried out by volunteer parents and games are played on Saturdays, mainly in Beban Park. The Happy Cleats program runs for 10 weeks, while the older divisions have an autumn-winter season until March and conclude with a year-end tournament.

From the U12 and older, enthusiastic and committed players have the opportunity to play tier 2 representative football. This is a more competitive level of play that involves more training, travel, and a higher level of competition. U12-U13 play eight-on-eight with goalkeepers and U14-U18 play a full 11-on-11 with goalkeepers. There are two training sessions every week and a game on Sundays.

At Tier 1 level, Nanaimo United players can try their hand at the BC Soccer Premier League, the highest level of youth football competition run from Victoria and featuring Vancouver Island Wave teams.

Nanaimo United also coordinates adult football in our area. Men’s teams in various competitive divisions traditionally compete in the Vancouver Island Soccer League, while United women’s teams compete in the Lower Island Women’s Soccer Association. As with the youth, the adult leagues run from September to March.

Nanaimo United headquarters is located in the Lions Pavilion in Beban Park and the club can be reached at 250-729-9400. Information on programs and registration can be found at www.nanaimounitedfc.com.

Whatever your sport, a reminder to do your best, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Football