More than 2,500 soccer players, fans and volunteers invaded Centennial Fields last weekend (April 24-25) to take part in the fun and competition of the 28th annual Soccer Fest - one of Squamish's largest sporting events.
A total of 78 teams from Squamish and the Lower Mainland took to the grass pitches under perfect conditions to compete against one another in separate men's and women's divisions.
"We've been knee-deep in mud out here some years," said tournament organizer Tom Johnstone. "It's been really nice to have Mother Nature on our side this year. It's so much more fun for all these people when the sun comes out to play."
Because such a huge number of games must be played throughout the weekend, special modifications are made to accommodate the hectic schedule. Instead of playing 45-minute halves, the men's games are shortened to 30-minute halves and the women play 20 minutes for each half. The women also play with just seven players a side rather than the usual 11. Forty men's teams and 38 women's teams compete in different divisions.
"It's such a good time coming to Squamish in the spring for this event," said Pamela Jamieson, a Vancouver resident who has been attending the event for the past seven years. "It just seems that it's always a good time. Nobody's yelling at the refs or playing aggressive - everyone comes to have fun."
Squamish soccer referee Bob Manger, who was in charge of officiating for the entire tournament, also received the Alex Bell "Good Man" Memorial Award for his dedication to keeping the tournament alive.