Six Lower Mainland schools are now competing for three — not four — seats to the AAA senior boys soccer provincials because of one Kootenay school’s mistake.
Mount Baker in Cranbrook, the only AAA school in the region with a senior boys soccer team, did not properly register its team by the deadline, a mistake that would normally prevent a school from competing in the league and at regional and provincial tournaments. A school representative not only registered late, but blundered again by listing a team with fewer than the 11 players needed for a team to take to the field.
Nonetheless B.C. School Sports will excuse the mistake, said the province’s soccer commissioner Don Moslin, because their rules have consistently favoured proportional regional representation.
“As long as one school is registered, we’re going to meet the requirements of B.C. School Sports,” he said over the phone Friday from Nanaimo where he teaches at Woodland secondary. “We’ve been using that policy ever since — it’s strictly by the percentages.”
(These rules mean competitive schools at populous regions like Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley battle fiercely to advance while one school in a region like the Kootenays automatically qualifies. This philosophy can mean the schools competing at provincial championships are not the best in B.C. but do represent all eight regions of the province.)
Last year, Mount Baker also failed to register on time. But a second school did register, meaning the zone was allocated a single berth. This year, no school registered and no berth was allocated. The 16 berths were distributed among the other districts, including four to the Lower Mainland although the region has typically qualified for three. In the meantime, regional playoffs began on Oct. 30.
But by then, representatives in the Kootenays became wise to the error and petitioned Moslin and the soccer commission for the single berth they believed was theirs. The executive of the soccer commission agreed and on Tuesday, Moslin contacted Lower Mainland soccer coaches to say they were losing one berth to the Kootenays.
“It’s a serious situation and as soon as I saw this […] I knew it was going to be a problem,” he said. “I knew certain coaches were not going to be happy.”
The commission’s executive decided the Kootenays would indeed get the berth in spite of their mistakes because B.C. School Sports emphasizes all regions with at least one team be represented at provincials.
“We take full responsibility and we stand by what our rules are because that’s what our members have given us,” said Moslin, noting members are schools that vote on decisions and policy.
Lower Mainland coaches this week decried the decision, citing past examples when individual schools were excluded because they did not register on time. The difference, said Moslin, was that those schools were from more populous regions that would at least be represented by other schools.
“I understand where they’re coming from, I really do. It’s unfortunate, but my hands are tied,” he said. “This is a very, very unique situation. This is the first time this has ever happened. We are trying to trouble-shoot and move forward.”
Moslin, who said he has been the soccer commissioner for nearly 10 years, is planning for next season when he will set clear expectations for Mount Baker.
Moreover, he said he will safeguard the Kootenays their one berth even if no school from the region registers by the deadline. This is a decision he expects “will get me screamed at,” but if the berth is not claimed, it will be allocated to another region.