British Columbia

Power struggle in Vancouver youth soccer triggers extraordinary meeting

Up to 1,000 people are expected to attend a special general meeting of the Vancouver Youth Soccer Association Wednesday night to vote on a contentious bylaw amendment.

Up to a 1,000 people expected to debate and vote on contentious proposal Wednesday night

Up to a thousand people are expected to turn out to a special general meeting of the Vancouver Youth Soccer Association Wednesday night. (Shutterstock / Laszlo66)

Up to 1,000 people are expected at a special general meeting of the Vancouver Youth Soccer Association Wednesday night to vote on a contentious bylaw amendment put forward by the city's largest youth soccer club.

On its surface, the resolution seems simple enough. But at stake is who gets to control a key stage in the development of the almost 8,000 Vancouver children and teens who play the game.

In the resolution, Vancouver United Football Club is asking that it and the other Vancouver grass roots clubs have the power to enter their own teams into the Metro-Select League (MSL). MSL is essentially the minor leagues of elite youth soccer in the province. 

Currently, a single district-wide team is selected in each of the six girls and boys age categories — U13 to U18. Players are picked from all six Vancouver grass roots clubs and compete as the Vancouver Football Club (VFC).

More opportunity or less competitive teams? 

Vancouver United FC board member Mike Mosher says the resolution's intention is to allow more players an opportunity to compete at the MSL level.

"What if there [were] two metro levels clubs at each age group for boys and girls and those two teams were run properly and were able then to feed to the next level," he said. "That would be a positive."

Vancouver United FC board member Mike Mosher is also a volunteer coach with the youth club and the head coach of the UBC men's soccer team. (UBC Athletics)

But Vancouver FC chairman Floyd Salazar believes the current system is the best way to develop players and field competitive teams from Vancouver. He also believes it's the most fair.

"Basically it has no allegiance —  to West Side, East Side, whatever," he said. "The board stands by what it stated previously: the best model to meet requirements of the district is one club — VFC — to have independent trials ... to assemble teams to play in the MSL."

Salazar believes Vancouver United FC— which was formed in 2011 when clubs in Point Grey, Kerrisdale and Dunbar amalgamated — may also be looking for a way to boost its registration numbers.

"Their player base is shrinking on a continual basis," he said. "If you don't have players leaving to the next level, you retain your numbers. And promoting themselves as an MSL-level club will also attract new players ... from other clubs."

"That's disappointing to hear," said Mosher in response. "Quite honestly this is about what we feel is best for the kids in this city and soccer development. This has nothing to do with bolstering our numbers." 

Vancouver United has organized buses to help get its voting members to the meeting at the Ross Street South Hall Wednesday evening.

"There's not a lot of parking around there, so we're just trying to make it easy for people," said Mosher. 

The Vancouver Youth Soccer Association and the majority of the other Vancouver youth soccer clubs rejected the proposal when it was brought forward on two different occasions last year. 

"It's very unfortunate," said Salazar. "It's pitting one club against all the others. This discussion has gone on for a year."

The bylaw amendment requires a 75 per cent vote to pass.