Thanksgiving soccer classic marking 25th anniversary

By Don Fennell

Published 3:11 PDT, Wed October 4, 2017

Welcoming the Colorado Rockies and Miami Marlins, Major League Baseball expanded for the first time in 16 seasons; Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series on Joe Carter’s walk-off home run; and the Montreal Canadiens became the last Canadian team to date to win the Stanley Cup.

Locally, Richmond FC kicked off its inaugural Thanksgiving Soccer Tournament which has gone on to become an annual tradition.

The year was 1993.

This weekend (Saturday, Oct. 7 and Sunday, Oct. 8) the 25th version of Richmond FC’s annual soccer classic will be played on 20 fields throughout the community.

With 108 teams (including 20 from the host club) from around the province, and from as far away as Quesnel, Powell River and Kamloops, this will be one of the largest sporting events in the city this year. In all, some 1,700 players, 200 coaches, 70 referees and countless volunteers will participate.

“As one of the longest-running soccer tournaments in B.C., and because of the (prior efforts of) pioneers like Jim Lamond and Rogers Barnes, I feel personally attached to making sure it’s successful,” said tournament director Tania Webster.

Webster is proud that so many teams look forward to playing in the tournament year after year. And she says it’s equally rewarding to see former players, now parents themselves, returning as coaches.

Representative of the game’s grassroots, the tournament affords Bronze, Silver and Gold Division teams an opportunity to be in the spotlight.

“It definitely provides an early-season opportunity to spend two days with your team, and a good spot for bonding,” said Webster.

Another unique feature of this weekend’s tournament is that the last kickoff is no later than 4 p.m. Webster said Thanksgiving weekend is an important one for many people, and this helps families to spend as much time together as possible. Further, there will be a collection during the tournament for the Richmond Food Bank.

Webster extended a special thank you to the City of Richmond’s parks department and, in particular, Sammy Morizawa. She said without their contributions, and those of the volunteers and sponsors (Karen Mori Associates Ltd., Metal Building Group, JT Sports, McArthur Glen, Pilgrim Painting, Lehigh Hanson-Heidelberg Cement Group, Freshii and Campbell, Froh, Rice and May), the tournament couldn’t take place.

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