'Fields are like cow pastures': minor soccer official
One parent described the soccer fields in the town of Tecumseh, Ont., as "cow pastures that aren't fit to walk on, let alone play soccer."
"I feel frustrated and helpless," Steve Grigorakis, the president of the Tecumseh Soccer Club, told CBCSports.ca.
"This year alone, I've got 1,400 emails from parents, and not many are complimentary ones."
The town of Tecumseh is located outside Windsor, Ont., and has more than 2,000 registered players in both the house league and rep level. Grigorakis is devastated, because he says the town only provides five playing fields, which are in conditions that are unfit for play.
"We're going to have to cut it [registration numbers] down to half next year .… It's a shame," Grigorakis said. "We can't put any more kids in. Where are they going to play?"
Casey Colthurst manages the Tecumseh parks and recreation program. He said the town recognized the demand for more fields and is prepared to make the necessary changes.
"They're constantly complaining, and we're constantly trying to make improvements, " Colthurst told CBCSports.ca. "And we've adopted a program to gradually improve the turf conditions."
He explained that the town has invested thousands of dollars for new irrigation systems, fertilization methods and regular maintenance of the fields.
In order to have quality playing conditions, he said the fields need time to "rest," but said removing a field from competition is unlikely, so the only option is reducing the amount of players.
Grigorakis thinks town officials are more accommodating to the 500-player minor baseball league that has no problem finding quality diamonds.
"Last year, we had a boy break his ankle because of a big rock on the field," Grigorakis explained. "The town is letting us down and squeezing us out for baseball."
With only a fraction of kids playing baseball compared with soccer, "they're still saying baseball needs the fields Monday through Thursday and Saturdays," Grigorakis explained.
"They're getting paid, and we're volunteers, but we're getting the grief." Colthurst said he feels the town officials are being asked if they value baseball players more than soccer players.
The city is now awaiting the results of a master plan to set guidelines for the development of parks and playing fields.
He noted that soccer fields are "a large capital investment that has to compete with other investments."
Challenging times are ahead for a soccer program looking to expand and meet the demand from local residents.