New soc­cer league to launch

Light­ning soc­cer as­so­ci­a­tion to be a part of un­der-18 Avalon league

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NICHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A new un­der-18 soc­cer league will be­gin its in­au­gu­ral sea­son this week­end with a trio of games at the Car­bon­ear Recre­ation Com­plex. The league is co-or­di­nated by North River res­i­dent and soc­cer en­thu­si­ast Robert Tar­rant.

“Some of th­ese play­ers are high-level play­ers and need to keep de­vel­op­ing their skill level.”

— Bob Tar­rant

There is a new game in town for young ath­letes with the Con­cep­tion Bay North Light­ning.

The ever-ex­pand­ing soc­cer club, a mem­ber of the Avalon Soc­cer As­so­ci­a­tion, has en­tered into a new league with the other mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

The Avalon Cup Un­der-18 Soc­cer League will fea­ture both men’s and women’s leagues and a to­tal of seven teams.

On the men’s side, the CBN Light­ning will be squar­ing off with Pla­cen­tia, Por­tu­gal Cove-St. Phillip’s and North­east United.

The women’s side will have a three-team league with the Light­ning, Pla­cen­tia and Clarenville.

“One of the is­sues we have with soc­cer is that when play­ers get to a cer­tain age, if you’re not play­ing at a re­ally high level, like Chal­lenge Cup, peo­ple tend to drop out,” said league co-or­di­na­tor Robert Tar­rant of North River, who is a found­ing mem­ber of the Light­ning as­so­ci­a­tion.

He de­scribed the new league as an al­ter­nate to the Chal­lenge Cup cir­cuit, and added that it helps fill a gap for teenaged play­ers look­ing for a higher level of com­pe­ti­tion.

“There was no league for peo­ple who weren’t play­ing Chal­lenge Cup to play in,” said Tar­rant.

The as­so­ci­a­tions were ea­ger to jump on board.

A lot of the clubs in­volved in the in­au­gu­ral sea­son of the league were los­ing play­ers be­cause of a lack of game ac­tion, Tar­rant ex­plained.

“Some of th­ese play­ers are high­level play­ers and need to keep de­vel­op­ing their skill level,” said Tar­rant.

The league was met with re­sound- ing sup­port from ev­ery mem­ber of the as­so­ci­a­tion. With the Chal­lenge Cup be­ing the con­sid­ered the first di­vi­sion of soc­cer in New­found­land and Labrador, Tar­rant be­lieves this league will be­come known as the sec­ond di­vi­sion.

“It will cre­ate an area for th­ese play­ers who may not have the time to com­mit to that top level, but are still good play­ers,” he said.

Start up

The league, which is spon­sored by That Pro Look, will com­pete for the newly minted Avalon Cup.

The league will get its start on May 31 and June 1 at the Car­bon­ear Recre­ation Com­plex. The CBN team will kick off the sea­son with a match against the Pla­cen­tia U-18 team at 6 p.m.

Each team will play be­tween 1520 games, with ev­ery week­end fea­tur­ing 2-3 games.

Tar­rant has some­thing spe­cial planned for the open­ing week­end.

Us­ing what is done in the English Pre­mier League as an ex­am­ple, Tar­rant will have mi­nor play­ers from his as­so­ci­a­tion walk out with each team prior to kick-off.

“They’re also go­ing to be play­ing a mini-game dur­ing half­time,” he said.

Se­nior team

The Light­ning teams play­ing in the league will be the as­so­ci­a­tion’s se­nior teams.

“Our younger play­ers will be root­ing for and as­pir­ing to be a part of,” said Tar­rant.

This will have a pro­found ef­fect on the younger play­ers in the re­gion and will grow the game. They will want to de­velop their skills in or­der to get the chance to crack the un­der-18 lineup in the fu­ture.

“They need some­thing to aspire to,” said Tar­rant. “It will in­spire them to want to play at the higher level.”

The hope is that this league will spur the de­vel­op­ment of ju­nior and se­nior leagues in the re­gion.

“With any luck next year, we’ll prob­a­bly move it up to an in­ter­me­di­ate league,” said Tar­rant.

Com­pass file photo

Bob Tar­rant is co- or­di­na­tor for the new Avalon Cup un­der-18 soc­cer league.

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