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Starting from scratch with competitive soccer for men in Sudbury

Men’s competitive soccer in Sudbury was already on pretty shaky grounds in the years leading up to Covid-19, with the global pandemic only piling on to what was a fairly dire situation to begin with.

And while the soccer being played in the current SRCSL (Sudbury Regional Competitive Soccer League) Men’s Open Division is not about to ignite any immediate flashbacks to the heyday of soccer in Sudbury in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it is at least a starting point.

Witness the Monday battle at Queen’s Athletic Field between league leaders CONF FC and the (arguably) most appropriately named team in the loop, FFA FC = Formerly Fit All-Stars Football Club. Two goal efforts by Joel Cropp and Emmanuel Leonard would lead the CONF crew to a 6-3 win, though one senses that team spokesman Kevin Boyle was not necessarily all that concerned with the win-loss records this summer.

“Last year was my first year back in Sudbury after 15 years and to find out that our old men’s league had been closed was heartbreaking, to be honest,” said the Lockerby Composite graduate who also spent much of his youth hitting the pitch with his Panhellenic Soccer Club teammates.

“I feel that this is just to get us going again and I’m hoping to see a lot more competitive teams next year, younger, stronger teams. It’s really important for Sudbury. For now, I’m just happy we have some stepping stones to the next level.”

For as much as there is a very solid soccer acumen that is easily noticeable within the structure of his team, the gathering that Boyle has assembled are largely north of their 30th birthdays and might well be the mid-adult aged poster lads for anyone wanting to argue that there was a price to be paid for the more sedentary nature of the past two years.

“It was actually pretty easy to get guys to come out – but it feels that half of our team are still getting back into shape,” said Boyle with a laugh. “Looking at most of us, we have some extra tight jerseys on.”

But with the likes of former L.U. Voyageurs Mike Asunmaa, David Hysen (who netted a beauty, redirecting a corner kick knee high to the far corner of the net), Neil Petrin and others jumping aboard, it’s not the end of the world if the fitness plays catch-up to their understanding of how to play the beautiful game.

“About half of these guys are from my U15 Panhellenic team (circa 2000 or so),” said Boyle. “It’s just that natural positioning and movement allows the ball to do the work for us and makes us one of the stronger teams. We do have some pace in our old legs still, but it’s so nice when we know how to relax and pass the ball.”

While fielding a general younger lineup across the board, team organizer Sebastien Venne and the FFA squad are still trying to master what their opponents could count on as part of their game plan. “We’re getting better and better at passing, the team chemistry is getting there – but when you bring guys together who haven’t played together in two or three years, it’s rough,” said Venne.

Sporting a record of 2-5-1 through eight games to date, FFA FC in many ways are the epitome of what this league has been able to draw upon as the SRCSL looks to kick-start what was once a vibrant men’s soccer community in the nickel city. “There wasn’t a lot of soccer and we had a group of guys that want to play at a bit of a higher level of soccer,” said Venne.

“It’s mostly guys who have played in college or university, in high-school, in Valley East, and competitive in North Bay and Sudbury. We all know each other and have played with each other before. We’ve kind of reunited after not playing for a couple of years.

Josh Piché, Brandon Paquette and Ryan Collin would handle the scoring for FFA in this particular outing, with keepers Cameron Godin and Marc-André Quevillion called upon to make a number of close range big saves just to keep the score semi-respectable.

Also suiting up for FFA FC this summer are Jordan Ferron, Kyle Wilcox, Eric Paquette, Goergios Liskas, Johnathan Grylls, Justin Preseault, Alexandre Leger, Justin Dauphinais, Chad Lafortune, Bradley Williams and Sam Michel.

Rounding out the SRCSL loop this summer are the Sudbury Stallions, Toros, Afro-Heritage and South-End United FC.

Meanwhile, in the competitive youth ranks, the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) U15 Impact girls got the second half of their HDSL (Huronia District Soccer League) schedule underway on a winning note, blanking the visiting NDSC (Nipissing District Soccer Club) Lakers 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Mya Massimiliano recorded the shutout while Kynlee Cresswell and Lilah Shelby handled the scoring for the crew that will take to the road Saturday to face the Innisfil Stampeders. The U15 Impact boys take to the road the next day, battling the Orillia Lightning at the West Orillia Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.

The U13 Impact boys are hosting the Barrie Spirit at Delki Dozzi Sports Complex Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. while the youngest of the rep girls teams (U13) are not back at home until the end of August, playing five straight on the road between now and then.

Playing in the Central Soccer League (CSL), the Impact U14 boys are also down south this weekend, matching up with both the CTSA (Canadian Titans Soccer Association) and the Olympic Flame Soccer Club, both based out of Scarborough.

On the home front, the GSSC U21 Impact women will take to the field in search of their first win of the OWSL season on Sunday as the 0-4-0 Sudbury crew welcome Bolton U21 White (0-4-2) to town. An Impact U21 men’s game against the Bradford Wolves originally scheduled for Saturday at James Jerome has been moved to Saturday, August 6th.

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