After a three-year hiatus, the World Cups Youth Soccer Festival is returning to Lochside Park in Saanich.
The World Cups festival is a three-day spring tournament started in 1986 with six-a-side soccer, initiated and stewarded by Cordova Bay Soccer Association’s Frank Leversedge. It runs Easter weekend, March 25 to 27, at Lochside Park in Cordova Bay for youth in divisions U-7 to U18.
Peggy Leversedge remembers the magic of soccer in Canada when the World Cups festival started. Greater Victoria boasted a trio of players, Ian Bridge, Jamie Lowery and George Pakos, on Canada’s 1986 World Cup team. Although from Vancouver originally, longtime UVic Vikes coach Bruce Wilson was the captain of that team.
“It was a great time for Canadian soccer here in Victoria especially, which made a wonderful reason to start the World Cups festival,” says Peggy, who moved to Canada from England with husband Frank in 1970. Frank died in 2009 after many great contributions to Cordova Bay soccer including Frank’s Field, the 2009-built artificial turf at Lochside.
The World Cups Youth Festival continued until 2013 but without Frank, and with Cordova Bay joining Gordon Head soccer to create Saanich Fusion, the tourney seemed to get lost in the shuffle, says former UVic Vikes player and festival chair Dom Butcher.
“World Cups really was Frank’s gift, it brought people together,” Butcher says. “The best part was always the way it mixed fun with soccer. You are assigned to a team [a country that played in the last World Cup], and even though its called the World Cup there are no trophies, it’s all about fun.”
Players are placed individually on a ‘national team’ and in doing so, the players make new friends, Butcher said.
“The emphasis is on on friendship, fun and community,” Butcher added. Visit worldcups.ca for more information.