It’s difficult to affiliate soccer with Canada because for so long soccer has never been a big part of Canadian culture. Now, things are changing quickly. With the rise of the Canadian Premier League, which is expected to debut in 2018, soccer is now becoming a strong part of Canadian culture. The soccer scene is Edmonton and Alberta is growing rapidly thanks to the success of local professional soccer team, FC Edmonton. However, it’s not just FC Edmonton who are helping grow the game in Alberta. The likes of Edmonton Scottish and the University of Alberta are lending a helping hand with both teams winning national championships in 2016. Calgary Foothills also made an impressive run in the Professional Development League that saw them reach the championship finals, but were unable to secure their first ever championship after tasting defeat in 2016. The success from teams across Alberta is really starting to gain more exposure for soccer in Edmonton and Calgary. Now we see professional academies such as, FC Barcelona and Vancouver Whitecaps start their own programs in each city in hopes of generating more commercial success while finding the next big thing in the soccer world.
But when did soccer in Alberta really begin? Well, it is believed that soccer arrived in Alberta in 1862 where it is believed a soccer game was held at Fort Edmonton Park. Edmonton began forming soccer clubs in the year of 1889. Clubs continued to be formed throughout the 1890’s and in fact, it is believed that a south Edmonton club formed a women’s soccer team in 1895, which is pretty crazy considering it’s 2017 now and there are still plenty of clubs without a women’s soccer team. The first official soccer organization — currently known as Alberta Soccer Association (ASA) — was formed in 1911 and has continued to grow over the years to one of the strongest soccer associations in Canada. The growth of youth soccer started in the 1950’s with the introduction of Alberta Minor Soccer Association (AMSA) and shortly after that, ASA started to focus on the growth of the Women’s and Men’s game. Currently, the two main minor soccer leagues in Edmonton are known as Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA), and Edmonton Interdistrict Youth Soccer Association (EIYSA). The men’s and women’s league for adults is known as the Edmonton District Soccer Association (EDSA). There are several clubs who have affiliation with both minor and adult soccer leagues that have accomplished a lot in their existence. I am going to take a look at two of Edmonton’s most historic teams, Edmonton Scottish United Soccer and Edmonton Victoria Soccer Club.
Also known as Scottish, the club was founded in 1909 by Scots who had settled in the south side of Edmonton. Edmonton Scottish are considered one of the biggest elite amateur clubs in Canada. They have a youth, men, women, and senior program. They offer training for anyone under the age of six and up. On top of that, Scottish offer tons of opportunities for coaching education for those who aspire to give back to the game. Scottish are one of the very few clubs in the city with their own piece of land located in the south side of the city. They have built a club house with several outdoor fields for their teams to practice and play on. Scottish are now expected to build a full sized indoor facility in the near future and fundraising and planning for the new building is well under way. It will be the only full sized indoor facility in the south side of the city that is dedicated to soccer.
Edmonton Scottish also have women’s team called Angels Scottish Soccer Club and have been one of the leaders in women’s soccer over the years. They have won nine national championships and their last appearance in the national competition dates back to 2012. The Scottish women’s program continues to be a leader in the development of women’s soccer in Canada. The women’s program has grown so much that they have teams in the Major League, Premier, and Division 1 league in EDSA.
The Scottish men’s team have participated in five Canadian Soccer Association National Championships, which is considered the highest level of amateur soccer in the country. They have won three silver medals and they recently won their first ever National Championship in 2016. They are the second Edmonton team to win the national championship. Their first national championship was dedicated to Hamish Black who is a pioneer at the Edmonton Scottish after dedicating 40 years of his life to the club. In recent years, Scottish have developed strong ties with the MacEwan’s men’s soccer program and help the Griffins with player development. The Scots are proud to share the grounds of Grant Macewan Park, also known as the home of the Scottish society. They continue to be leaders in the soccer community for both men and women.
[picture taken from http://www.scottishunited.com]
Victoria Club of Edmonton was founded in 1951 by a group of German immigrants. As they settled into a new city and a new country, the germans found it difficult to cope with life in their new surroundings, but they found one common interest to bring them together and make them feel more at home and that was the beautiful game of soccer. Despite tons of obstacles along the way, Victoria managed to play their first game of soccer at Clarke Field in 1952. More problems within the club continued that saw board members leave and new members come in. One thing that remained constant was former president Karl Weidle, who tragically passed away on December 11th, 2016. Weidle passed away at the Victoria Soccer Club facility after suffering a heart attack in his vehicle. Weidle was the main reason why the club are where they are today. Weidle scouted for a piece of land to purchase for the club and he did so in 1964. With the help of volunteers they turned the land into a proper soccer club with outdoor fields and two indoor facilities.Teams from all over the world have travelled to Edmonton to play at the Victoria Soccer Cub facility.
They are the only club in Edmonton with their own indoor facilities,the newest facility just opened in October, 2016. Victoria offer programs for Elite youth players from the age of six and up. They have programs for men, women and seniors as well. They are a crucial part to the growth of minor soccer as they opened their doors to every club in the city to share their unique indoor facilities. In fact, all EIYSA matches are played inside Victoria Soccer Club now and without them, their would be no space for these leagues to schedule matches.Victoria’s women’s program have endured a lot of success in the past 7 years. The women’s team won three national championships in a row and are only the third team in the country to have won the national championship three or more times. They continue to be a dominant figure in the women’s game in Canada and continue to inspire many women to continue to stay involved in the sport.
These are only two teams out of hundreds that are registered in soccer leagues in Edmonton. From the start in the early 1900’s, Edmonton soccer went from having a few teams to having too many teams to mention. Soccer is now the most played sport in the country amongst children and it continues to grow despite it never being a critical part of Canadian culture. However, thanks to the success of many teams in Alberta, it is now a sport that is slowly growing. The next step for Canadian soccer is the formation of their own league, which hopefully will bring commercial power to the sport in Canada that will allow it to grow to become even more popular and important in Canadian culture.
http://www.victoriasoccerclub.com/ (pictures taken from Victoria S.C website)