Friday, April 19, 2024

Langford junior football team gets the boot from community field after complaints from residents


Written by Travis Devonport for Victoria Buzz

A junior football team in Langford is looking for a new field to practice on after receiving complaints from residents.

On Tuesday, the Westshore Warriors were informed by the Sooke District School Board (SD62) their use of mobile floodlight towers and noise coming from their evening practices was disturbing residents neighbouring the Belmont field. 

Until now, the Warriors have practiced at the Belmont field from 6 to 8 p.m. twice a week for the past three years. Players now have to commute to Spectrum Community School from as far as Shawinigan Lake to practice at a field, that peewee head coach, David Hansen says is unsafe.

“It’s not a very well-maintained field. We’re used to turf and all of a sudden we’re going to a subpar field. My son’s on the junior bantam group and they had four field-related injuries because of potholes. I actually almost snapped my ankle on one,” says Hanson.

Since the Warrior’s first practice at Spectrum, parents have taken it upon themselves to ensure their children have a safe place to play. On September 25th, Melanie Gilbert started an online petition to draw attention to her concern. Today, the petition has over 2,200 signatures.

As a mother of two sons that use the Belmont field, Gilbert says her choice to start the petition came out of frustration.

“Everyone’s struggling right now. Where it was 20 minutes down the Malahat into Langford. Now they’re adding 40 minutes to get in because you’re hitting rush hour traffic, when you have a field empty five minutes from your house,” says Gilbert.

As the Warriors search for fields to accommodate evening practices, support is on the way. Councillor Roger Wade says the upcoming completion of Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School should allow the City of Langford to book weekend and evening activities there, allowing more availability at other fields. Until then, the Warriors will have to work with what they have. 

“Unfortunately, with how sport is in the greater Victoria area, that is not an anomaly to be on the bus. I’m involved with the Westshore Rebels football team and we have coaches and players that use public transit and it is what it is,” says Wade.

Related story: Opening of Langford’s new middle school to be delayed until November

Hanson says the impact of the recent restrictions is more than a long drive to practice. Limited accessibility to fields prevent young athletes from gaining leadership opportunities and recruitment prospects. 

“Our junior coaches don’t have cars and they can’t just jump on a bus. All of a sudden the mentorship program goes out the window with that, and we lost 75% per cent of our junior coaches,” says Hanson.

As players, coaches and parents wait for answers. Lucy Hanson, the President of the Greater Victoria Minor Football Association, told Victoria Buzz they are currently working with SD62 to ensure community sports stay in Langford. 

For now, Hanson and the school board have agreed to meet each other halfway by holding practices at Spencer Middle school in Langford.

“We’d like to be back at Belmont but we’ll see what Spencer has and hopefully we don’t get any complaints and we can finish the season. If there are complaints, then we go back to the drawing board,” says Lucy Hanson.

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