The vice-president of Club Soccer PRO17 observed that the past two years of the pandemic have been a hard hit to youth soccer for the region. The lockdowns and then the later restrictions on outdoor gatherings have kept youth soccer sidelined. Now that pandemic restrictions are relaxing, Goyette and other Soccer PRO17 volunteers are working to revive youth soccer as a summer season recreational activity.
« Right now, after two years of no activity, » Goyette said during an interview, « it’s time now to get the word out there that we’re back. »
Prescott-Russell youth soccer history
Organized youth soccer for the region began in 2009 when the Soccer PRO17 Association was formed as a result, Goyette explained, of a « kitche table talk » session between him and several others about how popular soccer was becoming among Canadian youth. That led to contacting the Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association (EODSA) to create two new geographical sections for the EODSA’s program. The two new sections are designated as « Hawkesbury » and « Plantagenet » but Goyette noted that youth players from other communities in the Prescott-Russell were always welcomed.
Over the years the number of players signed up for the Soccer PRO17 divisions topped more than 600 during some seasons. The Hawkesbury chapter suspended its activities in 2019 because of lack of volunteers but there was hope of reviving the chapter’s season schedule at a later date until 2020 when the pandemic shut down the season for all sports everywhere.
Now Goyette and other remaining volunteers with Soccer PRO17 hope to resurrect youth soccer this spring. They are waiting for the EODSA to announce season schedules by the end of April and are doing a public awareness campaign to let parents and children know that youth soccer will be available again as a summer sport.
« It’s getting the word out, » said Goyette. « It’s just a question of knowing how many kids we’ll have available for each division. »
The goal is to have players for U6 (ages 5 and 6), U8 (ages 7 and 8), U10 (ages 9 and 10), and U12 (ages 11 and 12) divisions. Having enough coaching staff will not be a problem as some players from past seasons who are now in their teens have indicated they are ready to share their experience as a new generation of volunteer coaches. The Hawkesbury chapter of Soccer PRO17 is also going to offer its coaches a modest stipend for teaching children how to play soccer this season.
Goyette emphasized that the goal of Soccer PRO17 is to provide local youth with a chance to play soccer, to have fun playing soccer, and to make friends and learn good sportsmanship, regardless whether they win games or not.
« The goal for our group has always been to help develop good citizens, » said Goyette. « You can lose a game but still win by having fun. That lesson can go a long way. »
More information on the Soccer PRO17 program, including registration details, is available at www.pro17soccer.ca or through the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ClubSoccerPro17.