Two U15 teams battle it out under the lights at Charles Hays Secondary School field on Thursday night as the season gets off to a fast start. Of the three competitive teams this year

Two U15 teams battle it out under the lights at Charles Hays Secondary School field on Thursday night as the season gets off to a fast start. Of the three competitive teams this year

Prince Rupert Minor soccer debuts U5 division, kicks off season

Prince Rupert Youth Soccer Association debuts U5 division, kicks off season.

Prince Rupert’s most popular sport is officially underway for the season.

Nearly 600 youths signed up for Prince Rupert Youth Soccer Association (PRYSA) this year, which is only slightly lower than average participation. This year, the association introduced a new division, U5, which has approximately 50 kids signed up.

“Lots of parents have been asking for soccer for younger kids so this gives pre-schoolers the opportunity to join and find out what it’s like. That’s pretty exciting,” said PRYSA vice-chair Leigh-Anne Magnusson.

The other new aspect of this season will be the introduction of the Whitecaps FC Northern Academy, although separate from PRYSA, it’s in relationship with the association. Players from U9 and up will be taking part in evaluations in Port Edward this week to determine who will make the team.

Approximately 10-14 players will make each team and will play once a week with head coach Craig Angus, who has promised it will not interfere with minor soccer or other sporting activities in Prince Rupert.

“It just brings more exposure of soccer to the north. They’re trying to identify players that have potential here,” Magnusson said, adding this is a rare opportunity for northern athletes.

Whitecaps held a free training session two weeks ago, which was well-attended. Magnusson said the coaches were impressed with Rupert players, especially the U15 division.

A third aspect of the minor soccer season is the arrival of John Sneddon from the Lower Mainland, who will be PRYSA’s technical director. He will stay in Rupert for the next two weeks and hold a couple sessions with every division and essentially run practices for the kids. It’s a beneficial time for both the players and the coaches.

“The coaches participate and it’s awesome because they get to learn new drills as well. It’s something that benefits the coaches a lot and also benefits the players,” Magnusson said.

PRYSA will have three competitive teams this year. The U12 girls and boys teams are both pretty new, but will be playing other development teams in the region. The other competitive team is the U16 boys, which has been up and running for the last three years.

“They’re going to be off to Kamloops, they’ve got zones in Quesnel, they hopefully will be off to provincials and they’ve got an international tournament the September long weekend. They’re a busy team,” Gordon Armstrong, who will be taking the team to Kamloops for the Slurpee Cup in May.

Magnusson said PRYSA is always looking for more volunteers. Although the coaching gigs are filled now, there are many people that are taking on two or three different positions who could use some relief with extra help. Anyone who would like to volunteer can reach out to pryouthsoccer@gmail.com.

To find soccer schedules or news, go to pryouthsoccer.com or follow Prince Rupert Youth Soccer Association on Facebook.