SURREY — Soccer fanatics flocked to Surrey for their footy fix over the weekend. Hot dogs were being grilled and camping chairs were out as the sunshine beamed down on fields all across the city.
From March 16 to 18, Surrey-based Central City Breakers Football Club hosted its annual Surrey Mayor’s Cup, a tournament featured more than 320 boys and girls soccer teams (U9 to U18).
What started as a tourney to feel out the competition has now attracted teams from as far east as Alberta, and as far south as Oregon.
“Every year we’ve seen a few more teams join us,” said organizer Dean Kilback. “It’s grown in size every year for the five years that I’ve been here.”
Steady growth has allowed the Surrey Mayor’s Cup to become one of the largest sporting tournaments in British Columbia. Even though it’s been around for more than 50 years, fellow organizer Gary Sangha said the tournament really started to grow in 2011.
“What most people don’t know about the Surrey Mayor’s Cup is that the tournament is more than 50 years old,” he said. “It started as a girls-only tournament out of Cloverdale, but boys teams were added to the tournament in 2011.”
“Since then, the tournament has grown year by year, but it is one of the oldest running soccer tournaments in Surrey,” said Sangha.
According to Kilback, teams value a competition like this because it allows them to see where their rivals stand ahead of provincials in the coming months.
“It’s an opportunity for teams to know, ‘what are we going to see in provincials?’ For a team in Kamloops, it’s a chance to see what the Lower Mainland might throw at them in terms of competition,” said Kilback.
Although the number of teams has increased yearly, the competition is by no means thinning out.
“The teams that are coming from Alberta and from Vancouver Island have been really strong over the past couple of years,” said Kilback. “Teams from the Interior have also been big supporters of our tournament since I’ve been here.”
Even though the competition is strong, clubs from Surrey are still setting the standard for teams in the Pacific Northwest.
“I think that’s an understatement at times,” said Kilback. “At the higher levels, all of the Surrey teams are competitive. I talked to a team that won provincials out of Guildford who said, ‘If you can get out of Surrey unscathed, you have a shot at getting to provincials.’”
During the Premier Provincial Championships last summer, three Surrey teams were victorious, and two others runners-up.
Teams from Surrey still only made up a fraction of the competition over the weekend, but Kilback notes that some groups stood out talent-wise compared to the rest.
“The most competitive group is the Metro group,” he said. “It’s the highest level of soccer that a boy or a girl can play.”
Surrey’s soccer talent was evident in the U16/U17 Boys Metro Group, where three of the five teams were from the Central City Breakers Football Club. Those three teams occupied the top three spots in the group.
There were also winning teams from Surrey United (U14 Boys), Surrey Pegasus (U13 Boys), Central City Breakers FC (U13 Girls) and Surrey Guildford United (U15 Boys Metro).