What started out as a co-op class has developed into its own soccer school at Ballenas Secondary, giving students a chance to hone their skills on the pitch.
As a program of choice, the Ballenas soccer school features two groups: grades 8-9 and 10-12.
“It’s a great way to help develop kids in the game of soccer,” said instructor Larry Stefanek of the course. “We get a chance to help these kids get better with playing soccer, that’s all there is to it. We want to get the most out of everyone that comes into this program and we’ve seen some great results from house teams right on through to our teams here at Ballenas.”
The school runs through every aspect of the game, with on and off field preparation along with the skills and drills. The school has been a work in progress for a few years and has finally come around for Stefanek.
“We’re happy that it’s where it’s at right now,” Stefanek said. “Being very involved in all levels of soccer in the Oceanside area myself, it’s exciting to have something like this to offer at our school.”
“When I was younger, there wasn’t anything like this around for anyone to be a part of. It’s something that these kids are very fortunate to have and the ones that are taking part in it are realizing just how special something like this really can be.”
Earlier on in the school year, students would bus to Springwood Park to make use of the field. With the weather turning and the BSS field taking a turn in the wrong direction, the soccer school has shifted to the indoor Arbutus Meadows facility in Nanoose Bay.
“That’s a nice thing for us,” Stefanek said. “To be able to have a facility like that to use for our class, it’s an amazing thing for us. There are lots of other groups that get to use the pitch in there too so it’s pretty handy.”
“Being able to come inside when the weather isn’t the nicest out there, playing on a dry surface without the elements is great. The kids are pretty excited every time we hop on the bus and head out to Arbutus Meadows, so that really just adds to it all.”
Stefanek runs the course with Ballenas alumni and former UVic Vikings soccer star Alli Bach, who was named a CIS All-Canadian (2007) and a Canada West All-Star (2007, 2008).
“It’s great to have her on board here,” Stefanek said. “We’ve both got extensive backgrounds in the soccer world, Alli had a tremendous career at UVic and brings a lot of experience to our program here. It’s nice to see her come back to her roots and give back to the students after being a student here too.”