Wesmen add men’s and women’s soccer teams to its program

More sports to come as university expands its athletic program

U of W’s new soccer teams are ready to hit the field for more than just kicks this season. Janessa Brunet

This fall, men’s and women’s Wesmen soccer teams will participate in the Manitoba College Athletic Conference (MCAC) as they prepare to join the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league in 2011.

This season, the teams will be coached by Mick Gale, an elite soccer player and veteran soccer coach. Gale originally comes from Surrey, England, and spent six years in the early 1960s playing for three different professional teams – Brighton, Crystal Palace and Fulham. He has experience coaching in more than 50 countries and has most recently coached in Canada.

Tom Nicholson, The University of Winnipeg’s recreation and athletic services associate director, spoke highly of Gale’s extensive history.

“Mick Gale brings a wealth of experience with his international contacts and his lengthy coaching pedigree,” he said.

Gale will be joined by different assistant coaches for each team, and next year, each team will have their own head coach.
The athletes on the two new teams are primarily from Manitoba, although two of the men come from England and three women were recruited from the U.S. where they played in the NCAA – Division I last season.

The soccer teams will practice at two inner-city fields and games will be held at the Waverley Soccer Complex. Although the outdoor season is relatively short (September to October), the Wesmen soccer teams will be working on their game during the indoor season by playing another sport called futsal.

This highly-skilled sport is very similar to soccer but has different rules. For example, in futsal throw-ins are replaced by kick-ins, and while it’s played indoors, there are no boards. There is no futsal league in Winnipeg at present, but plans are in motion to begin one in the new year. 

U of W sports information coordinator Sheldon Appelle acknowledges that the addition of new sports will add new work, but he is looking forward to the expansion.

“It is exciting, and it’ll be a big challenge, but as a department we are ready for big things ahead,” he said.

No matter what, we’re not going to add sports for the sake of adding sports.

Doran Reid, athletic director, U of W

In addition to introducing the two soccer teams this year, Athletic Director Doran Reid stated that the Wesmen program plans to add men’s and women’s wrestling teams in the fall of 2011. The addition of these teams will mean the University of Winnipeg will have eight teams participating in the CIS.

“These programs that we’re adding, such as soccer, will be good for the community and the inner city,” Reid said.

Given recent developments with the CIS, the addition of new teams will also benefit the Wesmen program. The Wesmen are a part of the CanWest region of the CIS, which is looking to expand into two new regions.  If this happens, CanWest will demand that all member schools have a minimum of 10 teams if they want to be full members with voting privileges.  The U of W must still add two other sports to meet this regulation.

Reid stressed that the new CanWest regulations are not the driving reason for adding new teams. Instead, the addition of teams creates new opportunities for athletes at the U of W, helps with enrolment and improves the overall Wesmen program.

“No matter what, we’re not going to add sports for the sake of adding sports,” Reid said.

Published in Volume 65, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 2, 2010)

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