Sports

Thanksgiving soccer tradition returns this weekend

By Don Fennell

Published 10:38 PDT, Thu October 7, 2021

Last Updated: 4:40 PDT, Mon October 25, 2021

The weather forecast may be overcast skies and showers, but that won’t dampen the enthusiasm 130 boys’ and girls’ soccer teams will exhibit on fields all over Richmond this Thanksgiving long weekend.

After a reprieve due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions, Richmond FC is reviving its annual Thanksgiving Football Tournament with teams from throughout B.C., and from as far afield as Edmonton. The 28th version of the always-popular classic will also feature the Supra Academy and the Indigenous football academy Field Art, while expecting to attract, in all, some 1,500 families to the local community. 

Respecting and adhering to all safety protocols, Richmond FC is grateful for the assistance of city staff in scheduling every inch of available field space for the tournament. The commitment of the players, who spend precious hours of their holiday weekend on the pitch instead of scarfing down stuffing and gravy, is also appreciated. 

And of course, the dedication of the volunteers, without whom the event would not be possible.

“This is a great opportunity for our kids to test themselves against teams from much further afield than we normally play against,” said Richmond FC executive director Marius Roevde. “We’ve seen real growth in this tournament on the girls side of the event this season, which is great to see, and the fact that our RFC teams get to play for free is just another way we offer value to our families.”

A 2004 report for the City of Richmond showed the annual tournament is responsible for bringing in around half a million dollars in business to the community. But the tournament has grown significantly in recent years, to where organizers feel those numbers may be vastly understating the economic impact.

“In 2020 we were dealing with COVID so we didn’t get to run the event,” says Chris Parry, Richmond FC chair. “In 2019, we had around 60 teams attend the event, so we’re more than double that in just two years, which is incredible.”

Of course, no event of this scale can happen without the support of sponsors for which Richmond FC is blessed. The Gaming Stadium (the first of its kind esports emporium in Canada) on No. 3 Road became a club sponsor over the summer.

“The kids absolutely love having a cool company on their jerseys, and the arrangement allowed us to get all new playing kit for the kids,” says Parry. “Other sponsors like Coho Commissary and Go Auto Columbia Chrysler are also featured, and they allow us to fund plans for free football programs for families of lower incomes later in the year.”

Other sponsors include newly formed Richmond internet company Babbl Communications, HealthPlus Pharmacy, Kanata Hand Knits, Isidore Landscapes, Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital, Blundell Orthodontics, Xclusive Tint, Chemmart Pharmacy, Ape Ship Courie, J&T Sports, and the Abercorn Inn Vancouver Airport. 

RFC continues to be open for new player registration all year round at www.richmondfc.ca.

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