Boys and girls soccer clubs in North Delta are looking at a tentative merger.
The North Delta Soccer Club and SurDel Girls Soccer Club are considering becoming a single entity by as early as spring 2020, though the majority of the work to make it happen is still ahead for the clubs’ organizers.
The main catalyst for the proposed merger, according to NDSC director of operations Steve Rothmund, was when the B.C. Soccer Association rejigged the district boundaries, which he claimed opened the door to North Delta players being picked up by other associations in the area.
Beyond that, Rothmund said, there are many reasons why it makes sense to merge the two clubs, most notably because interest in the sport is dropping.
At a townhall-style meeting at the North Delta Rec Centre on Wednesday night (Jan. 23), Rothmund argued that having a single club for both boys and girls is not only progressive, but will allow the teams to benefit from “economies of scale” with respect recruiting higher-quality coaches for player development.
“We want to give the community of North Delta a good, solid base to work together,” Rothmund told the North Delta Reporter. “In today’s day and age, having gender-specific clubs, it’s a thing of the past.”
SurDel president Mark Kerr said the number of girls at the club has dropped from 700 in 2012 to about 500 today, and he argued that in order to give players quality instruction, they either have to raise prices or join forces with another club to take advantage of cost sharing.
“As a small club, it’s really hard to compete with the bigger clubs and give the same product on the field,” Kerr said at Wednseday’s townhall meeting. “Whereas, if we go as one, I really feel the girls will grow at our club and you’ll probably start seeing a draw from some of the corridor clubs or where girls are not treated right.”
In order to merge, members from both clubs first have to vote in favour of the merger, which will happen at meetings on Feb. 11 (SurDel) and Feb. 12 (NDSC). It’s expected the merger will result in some increased costs, but the specifics have yet to be determined.
If the merger votes are successful, Rothmund said the two clubs will have to change the new club’s status as it relates to the British Columbia’s Societies Act, as well as settle on an updated constitution and whether new uniforms for players are necessary.
“If we were in a situation where we have to add a few extra dollars, both clubs have savings and we will go into that a little bit to facilitate the ability to make that work,” Rothmund said.
The biggest hurdle for a merger is the “perception,” as Rothmund put it, that the two clubs have always been separated by gender and that it should remain so. At Wednesday’s townhall, he reassured parents that the girls’ treatment won’t deteriorate in a co-ed environment, and said it has taken him and others merger advocates about five years to get to a point where it’s possible to have a discussion about the move.
“I think people aren’t the biggest fans of change. There is a boys’ club, there is a girls’ club. I think getting over that has been the biggest thing,” he told the Reporter.
“With things like the town hall and the information that we are giving to people, that gives us the ability to at least get the members to see why there’s a benefit.”