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Guelph Soccer goes through major changes

Technical director and head coach depart, board of directors revamped as minor soccer undergoes overhaul

Spring is a time of renewal, a concept Guelph Soccer can surely appreciate.

The club recently kicked off its 50th season operation amidst a time of significant change in both structure and approach.

A revamped board with plenty of different faces is looking to lead Guelph Soccer forward after a rocky period.

“It’s new people and new ideas,” said board chair Rupesh Pandey.

“One of the mandates of every board is succession. You keep the ideas fresh and bring in new visions and new people. You expand the community engagement by more involvement.

“We’re trying to widen that net.”

Former technical director Ruben Flores has left the non-profit organization, as has his brother Mauricio, who was Guelph Soccer's head coach.

It’s been an unfortunate situation for Guelph Soccer and the departure of many players and even entire elite teams was another concern.

“It was unexpected in the sense that we didn’t think we would be without technical staff this summer,” Pandey said of Flores leaving. “At the same time, the season is in full swing, the teams are set and they’re playing their games.”

How Guelph Soccer will address the vacancy is one of the board’s most pressing questions.

Pandey said they are evaluating the club’s needs and trying to decide whether one technical director will suffice for a club with 30 to 40 rep sides, numerous house league teams and approximately 3,000 total participants.

The departure of players, and especially entire teams, to other clubs has been another concern. Pandey attributes some to natural migration but understands there is a sentiment that the club wasn’t operating at its best.

There has been feedback suggesting that improvement is needed on the competitive side and Pandey said Guelph Soccer has listened.

“This board is looking at trying to introduce the next level of programming,” said Pandey, noting that there is also a focus on addressing the large house league system, which is the foundation of the whole club.

“We’re trying to improve and increase the programs offered. That’s one way to address it.”

Pandey and the board want to create an atmosphere where people are invested in Guelph Soccer. When people make significant financial commitments to the club, they want to make sure that the programming is top notch and people get their money’s worth.

“How do you get there?” Pandey asked. “You do your research to find out what’s working, why we’re losing people, where they’re going and what they’re getting out of it.

“The technical staff will play a big role. We have to make sure that whatever staff and training programming that we’re offering, that whole technical department has to attract people. We want to set up something that will make this club a magnet for soccer players in the area.

“That’s the objective.”

Guelph Soccer’s golden anniversary season has started on a high with the successful First on the Turf boys and girls tournaments held in late April and early May. Notable visitors included John Bamber, the original president of Guelph Soccer and Helen Stoumbos, a GCVI grad who scored Canada’s first ever World Cup goal at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Approximately 140 combined teams participated in the events, which were held at the various University of Guelph turf fields, including Alumni Stadium.

“It’s so exciting for young kids, whether they’re from Guelph or another town,” said Pandey. “You walk into the university and it gives you that big stadium feel. We had huge crowds.

“They were sold out tournaments and they went very well for the clubs and were well received by all the participants.”


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David DiCenzo

About the Author: David DiCenzo

David DiCenzo has been writing for over 20 years, covering sports, music, the arts and business.
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