The school board heard a passionate plea for a better sports field at the new Queen Charlotte high school when it met Wednesday night (Sept. 23).
The field, completed only weeks ago and just now greening up with its first cover of grass, is too small for soccer, despite the fact that it meets international requirements, several people told the board, meeting in Port Clements.
“We need better than the minimum requirements. We walked it about a week ago. We can get 105 x 49 (metres) for sure, you cannot get any more,” long-time soccer coach Kevin Borserio told the board. “My concerns as a soccer coach, our kids have never played on a field that is this substandard.”
A field is legal under soccer’s governing body if it’s at least 90 x 45 metres, but Mr. Borserio said anything less than 60 metres wide is not up to snuff, as it makes kicking from the sideline by the goalpost far too easy.
He told the board that Queen Charlotte players will be at a disadvantage when they play other teams. “We are not likely to play on a field that small,” he said, and noted that all the other fields he could find are at least 60 metres wide, including ones in Port Clements (60), Sandspit (68), Prince Rupert (60), Williams Lake (64), and Houston (60) among others.
“In my opinion, you the board have sent a message to our children that they are substandard by providing them a substandard school. I truly believe that,” the popular coach known as ‘Mr. B’ said, “I feel not valued as well.”
The board also heard another concern-the school does not have a track. “Historically, the island communities have had track and field, physical education teacher Debi Burton said, adding that without a track, it’s difficult to sustain student interest.
“We were really looking forward to a field that had a track and a full-sized soccer field”, she said.” I have been a PE teacher for seven or eight years. I have never been able to use a field.”
“We should come up with a solution so we can provide opportunities for our youth. We do feel the students and the community really do deserve a full sized soccer field, somehow” she said.
Ms Burton also read a letter from Queen Charlotte teacher Karl Puls, who wrote “I feel this to be a betrayal of the highest magnitude of what staff, students and community paid for, and were entitled to expect. This situation simply should not be shrugged off. It is a disaster for our students and communities.”
There is a possible solution that was presented to the board. Mr. Borserio said he had gone ahead and got a quote of $17,000 to move some rock at one end of the field, allowing it to be widened. Several parking spots would have to go, but a 105 x 60 metre field is possible. “I know you are going to do it. And I know we are going to get to 105,” he said.
The school district is going to look into the idea, but it’s likely to be more expensive than Mr. Boreserio’s figure.
“I would think that $60,000 is going to be more reasonable than $17,000. I need to get actual quotes”, said Bill Wiggins, school district maintenance supervisor. He said the district has to look at funding, then go back to the parties involved to see what the community wants.
“It doesn’t matter what happens, you are going to end up losing something.” Mr. Wiggins said, noting that expanding the field would sacrifice some school parking spaces.
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