The Richmond Girls Soccer Association (RGSA) is no more and will soon step out of its 46-year-old skin with a new name and constitution which welcomes all genders and identities.
The amateur soccer club held a virtual EGM Monday evening to herald a new dawn which will see the organization open its doors beyond its previously female-only membership.
Although it’s not official, the Richmond News understands the club’s new name will be “Richmond United,” with the legalities still to be finalized.
The club’s acting president, Marty Mueller, told the News that this was a “pretty exciting time” for the organization and “an exciting time for soccer in Richmond.”
Asked about the club opening its doors to male players and teams, as well as female, Mueller said the “purpose was a little bit deeper than that.”
“It was to provide an environment committed to inclusiveness really. One that welcomes all players of abilities and identities.
“When you’re called Richmond Girls, that’s pretty gender specific. (The inclusiveness) was the main motivation behind the change.”
Mueller said the now former RSGA board had been talking about the change for more than a year.
“I’m very proud of the board of directors, as we’ve worked very hard on this,” said Mueller, adding that the official release of the new name and constitution should come out “any day.”
The sea change in focus would now appear to put the club in direct competition with Richmond FC, a previously boys-only environment which started offering girls programs earlier this year.
However, Mueller said that is not the focus of his organization, saying only that the aforementioned “inclusivity” was top of their agenda.
“We’ve been fielding questions from parents that their kids don’t fit into pigeon hole genders and they’re asking, ‘what do you have for my child?’ explained Mueller.
“So that’s what we’re addressing and that’s what we’re about. We’re not interested in competing with anyone.”
The News understands there had been talks recently between the two organizations about a possible merger, without anything coming to fruition.
“There’s been talk for a long time and we’re open to continue to talk,” said Muller, when asked about previous merger conversations. “It’s always an open door.”
Suggestions of competing clubs and mergers aside, Mueller said the new club is eager to bring in “all kids, all cultures and all identities to play soccer.
“I think we’re on the cutting edge of that right now in Richmond and I’m really proud of that.”
The News reported in February how Richmond FC was launching its girls’ soccer program this year with former Team Canada coach Even Pellerud in a leadership position.
Pellerud is one of the biggest names in the world of women’s soccer with Richmond FC calling him "women's soccer royalty."
He is serving as new head of coaching and education where he’s mentoring club coaching staff and helping to design the women’s program.
For decades, the world of minor hockey in Richmond had two competing organizations – Richmond Minor and Seafair – until they finally merged in 2018 to form Richmond Jets.