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United begins new club chapter with optimism

By Don Fennell

Published 2:10 PDT, Fri September 10, 2021

The recent Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were nothing like the world had seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic saw the global spectacle viewed almost exclusively on TV, with live attendance notably limited or non-existent.

But that didn’t overshadow many outstanding athletic achievements, including a gold medal performance by the Canadian women’s soccer team. Doubtless, the inspiring effort has helped spawn a renewed interest in the game across our home and native land—and certainly in local youth soccer.

Richmond United Soccer Club has seen its numbers balloon over last year, sitting at 726 today after being at 366 to kick off the 2020 season. The combination of the national women’s team’s success on the international stage, coupled with United’s inclusion of boys for the first time, lends to an air of optimism. But Mandhir Punia, director of soccer operations for United, believes the club’s growth has a lot to do with the community at large becoming more familiar with the club model which includes “professional coaches working with every team at least once a week, and our fee structure which provides a lot of value to our members.”

“We expect to continue to grow,” Punia says. “Our club’s history of success in developing players, and creating fun and challenging environments for players to grow, has been recognized throughout the community. As a result, our first year of running a boys’ program has been overwhelmingly positive. We have multiple teams participating at all levels of play.”

Last weekend, 10 United teams participated in the SX Cup, with the U18 Strikers Metro Division team earning first-place honours and the U14 Dynamite, also a Metro Division side, placing second.

“As we enter the first weekend of league play, we are excited for the season,” Punia says. “We fully expect that all our players will continue to have fun and develop, while making lifelong friendships. And our graduating players, both boys and girls, can look forward to continuing to play after youth soccer with our men’s and women’s teams.”

The club is also excited to welcome Ross Kenny aboard. Appointed as the club’s new sporting director, Kenny brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and “will be instrumental in taking our club to the next level,” Punia concludes.

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