Print Edition: June 20, 2012
UFV’s soccer teams are moving to a new venue for their 2012 season. Exhibition Field in Chilliwack has many improvements over the previous venue (Bateman Field in Abbotsford), including covered seating for about 2000 spectators, a beautifully maintained field, flood lights, and even Wi-Fi. The new venue with all its bells and whistles is exciting the coaching staff, as well as the student athletes.
Craig Robinson, striker/right midfielder for the men’s team, is enthusiastic about the move. “It’s what we as soccer players grew up dreaming about,” he said, “so hopefully with the great field, the stadium, and some new fans we can make it a fortress and consistently get results there, and make the playoffs for the first time in CIS.”
It was apparent that this field represents a whole lot more than just a new venue for games. For the players, it is also represents the opportunity for the team to step it up a notch. Mark Village, the goalie for the men’s team, noted that the technology and location were essential. “They have Wi-Fi there so we can stream out our games [online]” he said, “and usually when we go to Chilliwack we get more fans than we do at Bateman Park … [the new field] is a lot easier to find as well.” This means the ever-growing fan base will be accommodated in the new facility.
The coaching staff is hoping to draw more spectators out to the new venue as well. Alan Errington, the men’s head coach, stated “we didn’t get much of a crowd to the games [at Bateman], it was mostly parents and friends…we are hoping to change that.” Craig Robinson agreed: “It is always fun to play in front of large crowds.” Parents and friends are always welcomed to games, but the teams are hoping to establish a larger, more diverse fan base.
The UFV soccer programs aren’t the only ones impressed by Exhibition Field. Errington had this to say about the field: “a few years ago we played there when I was with the White Caps … we had three guys we brought across from Newcastle United … they couldn’t believe the view and the stadium itself, it was fantastic, and they come from an environment in Newcastle, where I am from, there’s 52,000 people there at every game and it’s absolutely world class beautiful, and they were very impressed with Chilliwack’s stadium.”
One thing that was emphasized by both Errington and women’s head soccer coach Rob Giesbrecht was the importance of providing the student athletes with the most professional experience possible. “I think playing at night is just a new experience, it’s a bit more professional experience,” Giesbrecht said on the new facility. He also noted the trickle-down effect that could increase interest in the team: “…when [fans] can’t make the games they can watch them online … word spreads that UFV is doing it right. They are in a proper stadium, there are fans there and watching the game online.” Lastly he adds, “we want to be all things excellent, we don’t want to be about the mediocre stuff.”
From coach to player the excitement about the change in venue is evident. Practices will still be held at Bateman Park, so the players and coaching staff get the best of both facilities. “Sometimes change is difficult…,” said Giesbrecht, “and you think the facility is part of the reason why [you have special memories]… but my job is to convince them that they are the reason why those memories are special…” It’s a new season, a new venue, but still the same great game; make sure to check out our UFV soccer teams this fall.