The Oceanside Lions have seen the number of players wanting to play football increase significantly in recent years.
But unfortunately, the Oceanside Youth Football Association is struggling to accommodate them all due to a shortage of coaches.
“I have been receiving emails from parents wanting to register their kids to play and I told them if they wanted to play they have to go to Nanaimo because we don’t have enough coaches,” said Colleen Rai, OYFA president.
Currently, the Lions have a peewee (ages eight to 11) and a junior bantam (12-13) team. Rai said because there are more players, they have the ability for form another peewee team but are unable to, due to lack coaches.
“Parents don’t seem to be stepping up as much as they did before and I am not sure if it’s because of COVID or something,” said Rai. “I am expecting a wait list for players wanting to be in our program. Our peewee team is extremely short of coaches. We also don’t have coaches for our atom team, which is for seven- and eight-year-olds.”
Rai is disappointed for the youngsters.
“Things are starting to open up and people want to exercise, get moving and it’s not there for them,” said Rai.
The OYFA is a non-profit sports organization that has been in existence since 1999. Their teams play in the Mid-Island Co-operative League which consist of teams from Victoria to Parksville. The Lions have had some players as well as coaches who went on to become integral components of the successful Ballenas Whalers football program.
“We need dedicated coaches that can come in two days a week plus games on Saturdays,” said Rai. “We actually need coaches that know the kids, know their skill levels, work with the same plays, that kind of thing.”
The Lions will begin play in April starting with a football jamboree in Victoria. This will be followed by regular league games every weekend. The homes games are played at the Ballenas field.