The surest sign of fall in Squamish is Centennial Fields filling up with the sound of cheers, laughter and feet on leather.
Squamish Youth Soccer is off and running this weekend with a new pre-season Labour Day tournament for travel teams that organizers hope to turn into a big kick-off to soccer season.
The inaugural effort involves some interesting inter-Squamish matchups across the various age groups, with some boys vs. girls action and some visiting teams.
The tourney is a test run for 2005, when a full youth tournament involving many visiting teams is planned.
This season Squamish has a record number of travel teams at 13, seven playing at gold level and six at silver.
The travels teams start their regular season next Saturday (Sept. 11) when the boys take the pitch, with the girls starting play on Sunday. Each weekend half of the travel teams will be playing at home, providing great local soccer entertainment.
Regular season play will be only briefly interrupted on Sunday, Sept. 19, when there will be six boys' exhibition games with local travel teams playing host to select teams from the North Shore Premier Player Program.
There will be a few new twists as well when community house league play starts Sept. 11. This season there will be no evaluations of players moving up this season. Rather, teams will be formed based on the coach feedback from the previous year, and equal age splits. Coaches will be contacted (by Caroline Melville or Garry Gregg) by e-mail before Labour Day with their team lists, and a coaches' meeting will be held this coming Wednesday (Sept. 8).
Also, for the first time, the league will include some Whistler and Pemberton teams in September and October for some friendly out-of-town competition and more variety of opposition for the senior leagues. All games will still be at Centennial Fields.
Overall, local registration in Squamish Youth Soccer is steady again at 850 players. While there have been many volunteers, there is still a need for some coaches at senior levels. Volunteer help in some administrative capacities and to train as referees would also be appreciated. Contact Jose Oreamuno for referees, or Caroline Melville for general offers of help.
For contact information, see www.squamishsoccer.ca.