Langara soccer teams scramble for fields in Metro Vancouver

Vancouver Park Board being ‘non-communicative’ adds challenges to booking fields, a Langara soccer coach says, a longtime problem

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By Erin Conners

The lack of  a campus sports field at Langara is presenting challenges for the Falcons, including coaches having to host recruitment camps all across Metro Vancouver, and scheduling problems for student athletes.

With a new soccer recruitment session coming up in April, Falcons coaches are gearing up to travel outside of Vancouver to recruit new players.

Marc Rizzardo, head coach of the men’s soccer team, said the team uses fields all over Metro Vancouver for recruitment, practices and games because soccer pitches in Vancouver are rarely available to book. He said booking fields through the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has been a problem for him for the past 34 years.

“Vancouver’s Park Board is non-communicative,” he said. “Whatever the reason is, they won’t allow us to book fields in Vancouver.”

In the PACWEST conferences, Langara College is the only school without a soccer pitch on one of its campuses, or access to one within a couple of blocks. 

“They [Vancouver Park Board] just don’t understand that there’s only one college in Vancouver that has an athletic program and that they should be supporting it,” said Rizzardo.

During the 2022-23 regular season, the Falcons soccer teams played home games in Burnaby, with half played at Swangard Stadium in Central Park and half at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex. 

Alvin Prasad, head coach of the women’s soccer team, said he has been meeting potential recruits around the region.

The women’s team has not hosted an official recruitment session this year and Prasad said the lack of a field on campus makes it more difficult to organize.

“If you’re waiting for city parks and things, there’s always a process,” Prasad said. “You’re still at the mercy of the city.”

It would be a lot easier if Langara had a field on campus, Prasad said.

Pitching better sports facilities 

Both coaches say they are often able to recruit players despite the lack of a campus field, but Rizzardo said the school needs better athletics facilities overall. 

“The building’s old. The gym is outdated. It’s actually small and dangerous,” Rizzardo said. “They should be taking a blowtorch and blowing up the athletic building and put in a proper building including a weight room.”

Unforeseen challenges ahead

Falcons right-winger Bella Johnston said last fall the women’s soccer team practised at Memorial South Park near Fraser Street and East 41st Avenue. The field was only available at 7:30 a.m., forcing some athletes to choose between practice and class. 

“People who would have to leave a little early from practice to be able to get to campus on time,” Johnston said. 

She said for a school like Langara, where students don’t live on campus, it would give the athletes more time to gel.

“I think that will really change the tide in terms of our results as well,” Johnston said.

The women’s soccer team did not win a single game this past season.

Chris Laxton, coach of Douglas College’s women’s soccer team, said an agreement with the City of Coquitlam gives them reliable access to a turf field next to their Coquitlam campus. New players getting the support they need has been key to their team’s success over the past decade. 

“It makes it easier for us to schedule around what we need to do,” Laxton said. 

 

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