Many of the best boys soccer players in British Columbia will be battling it out for provincial titles in West Vancouver this weekend, all the while following a path paved by a pair of soccer pioneers.
The provincial championship tournament for gold-level boys teams in the U13-U18 age groups will take place Thursday through Sunday at Ambleside Park, West Vancouver secondary and Sentinel secondary. The tournament is now known as the Les Sinnott Boys Memorial Cup in honour of a longtime builder of soccer in British Columbia who got his start in West Vancouver.
Sinnott, who died in 2012, moved with his family from England to Canada in 1965 and immediately began playing for the West Vancouver Soccer Club. As an adult he helped grow the game across the North Shore, coaching and reffing with the North Shore Girls Soccer Club before becoming the club’s chairman as well as the chairman of the North Shore Youth Soccer Association. He then moved to Terrace where he took charge provincially as one of the driving forces of BC Soccer. Known as the “Governance Guru,” he helped the provincial association and many of the clubs and districts within the province craft and refine their rules and regulations.
“He knew everything backwards and forwards,” says Dan Turvill, manager of competitions and discipline for BC Soccer, adding that Sinnott was the man called upon whenever changes needed to be made to bring the association up-to-date.
“He was always the best at taking the intentions of the group or the members of BC Soccer and putting them into a rules and regulations policy format,” he said. “He was extremely important. He was really good at bringing all these ideas together and giving them clarity.”
Tournament organizers from the West Vancouver Soccer Club are also taking the opportunity to recognize 97-year-old Fred Jopson who helped establish the West Vancouver Youth Soccer Association more than 60 years ago. During his time as president, the West Van association grew from three teams to 50 teams. Jopson then took the formula he used to help get soccer up and running in West Van and spread it across British Columbia and the rest of Canada.
“It’s an amazing amount of work this guy did,” said Bill Sparling, the chairman of this year’s tournament. “He basically created the template for B.C. Soccer in the 1950s in West Van. … They went to B.C. Soccer and basically set it up as an association. No one else was set up across the country. He took that template and he went across the country and got all of the other provinces organized.”
Both Jopson and Sinnott are worthy of praise for the work they put in growing the beautiful game on the North Shore and beyond, said Sparling.
“They brought so many good things to the North Shore for so many kids, developing them into team players and providing a safe environment,” he said. “The kids were the most important thing, to make sure the kids had the best coaching and the best organization.”
Jopson will be on hand during the opening ceremonies Thursday starting at 7 p.m. at Ambleside Park. All 48 teams will take part in the ceremonies, including six squads – one for each age group – from North Van FC. Canadian soccer legend Bobby Lenarduzzi will also be there to help kick off
Parking at Ambleside Park will be extremely limited so fans are encouraged to explore alternative modes of transportation. Some tournament parking will be available at Park Royal Shopping Centre in parkade levels 3, 4 and 5 at the east end of the shopping centre.
Championship finals are scheduled for 10 a.m. for U13 and U14 and 2 p.m. for U15-U18 at Ambleside Park. For more information and updated schedules and results visit lessinnottcup.bcsoccer.net.