Soccer showdown aims to bolster funds, support for community fields project
by MICHAEL DASHIELL
But everyone will be playing for the same cause.
The March 19 game between the Kitsap Pumas reserve squad and Peninsula United — a kind of Olympic Peninsula all-star squad, including past and present members of the Peninsula College men’s soccer team — is dubbed the “Sequim Soccer Spectacular” and is the first large, public fundraising event aimed at supporting efforts to build community playfields on Sequim’s east end.
The event, organized by Sequim Family Advocates, will help fund the creation of a 14-acre site of multi-use athletic fields on land just north of Carrie Blake Park.
About three weeks ago, Sequim Family Advocates received a $105,000 donation from the Albert Haller Foundation, putting the group within about $50,000 of fully funding the first phase of the project, known as Sequim Community Playfields.
But, as advocates group board member Colleen Robinson noted, “We’re still not there.”
The playfields project is a $250,000 effort to give athletes of all ages more open space for youth and adult sports leagues and pickup games and to give community groups an area for gatherings and events.
The project also includes a 100-space, ADA-accessible parking lot adjacent to the nearby James Center
Robinson was a member of the Sequim Junior Soccer board for about a decade and said she’d been hoping for room for the soccer league and other clubs to grow.
“This has been on my heart for 10 years,” she said.
She brought up the idea to other Sequim Family Advocates board members a few months ago and got the go-ahead early this year. She contacted Andrew Chapman, head coach for the NWAACC champion Peninsula Pirates men’s soccer club, who also happens to be an assistant coach for the Kitsap Pumas, a Bremerton-based soccer squad formed in 2008 and playing in the USL Premier Development League.
Chapman said he was ready to help and that he supports the playfields project.
“Anytime you can build quality fields especially for kids … that’s great.”
Chapman said the Peninsula United squad is made up of some current or recently graduated Peninsula College players, some local stars and even some local coaches, such as Chapman himself and Peninsula College women’s coach Kanyon Anderson.
With the proposed playfields in Sequim, a new turf field in Port Angeles being built, a new soccer academy at the college and the Pirates’ women’s program scoring success in its first season, soccer on the peninsula is going strong.
“I think we’re going in the right direction,” Chapman said.
Ben Pecora, executive director of the Kitsap Pumas, said he jumped at the chance to schedule a game this early, with his club’s tryouts starting in early March.
“I wanted to do it immediately; we’re always looking for these chances to spread out across the region,” Pecora said. “This area has not had a lot of things to latch onto, to call their own.”
He said that though the team officially will be called the Kitsap Puma reserves — because the team doesn’t have a set lineup for the 2011 outdoor season — many of the Puma regulars likely will see playing time.
“This (project) is going to develop the sport and we’re helping the brother out so to speak,” Pecora said. “We constantly battle, even down here, (with field space). If you don’t have good facilities, you don’t have opportunities for kids to play, to get off the couch and … away from video games.”
The event has a number of community groups lending hands, Robinson said. That includes Boys Scout Troop No. 90 with a flag ceremony, national anthem by Amanda Bacon, Sunrise Rotary Club members helping sell tickets, a number of food service groups selling meals at a food court, a high school boys-versus-girls soccer challenge, a procession of Puma and United players with members of Sequim Junior Soccer before the game and more.
“It’s fun getting the whole community involved,” Robinson said.
A silent auction featuring sports-related items only also is on the day’s agenda.
In addition to the soccer game, Robinson has signed up several businesses to donate a portion of products sold on March 19 to go to the play-fields project.
Those businesses with the bright, red-and-orange-and-blue “Day of Shopping” sign in the window are participating business.
“Not everyone is going to the soccer game,” Robinson said. “They can still support (the cause) by shopping in Sequim.”
For more information, call Robinson at 460-5560 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
One particular item — actually, 187 of them — are a hurdle to completing the playfield project, Robinson said.
Sprinkler heads to keep the fields watered are numerous and about $43 each, she said. Those hoping to donate funds to the playfields project may want to purchase a sprinkler head instead of making a general donation.