The Saanich Fusion U15 girls premier league team has launched a social media campaign in response to its disqualification ahead of the provincial playoffs. The team allegedly rostered illegal players but says the rules aren’t fair, with the only other team a mixed-pool made up of players from the catchments of five former teams. Facebook photo

Disqualified Saanich soccer team disputes ruling

Saanich Fusion U15 girls alleged to have ineligible players

A Saanich under-15 girls soccer team says it’s been blindsided by a recent decision that ended their season ahead of the provincial cup playoffs.

The Saanich Fusion U15 girls club in the Vancouver Island Premier League (an elite level of soccer) serves the catchments of Gordon Head, Cordova Bay and Prospect Lake. The team was disqualified last week for allegedly using more than its allowable number of out-of-catchment transfers. Saanich Fusion has filled its quota of three, plus the child of a coach, for a total of four.

However, the board of the Lower Island Soccer Association enacted a ruling to disqualify the team based on two additional players from Fusion who are allegedly unable to prove they are from within the catchment area.

President Tim Stafford of the LISA board said in a statement it “takes all infractions of its rules and regulations seriously and considers carefully the impact of disciplinary decisions on players, coaches, parents, clubs and the soccer community as a whole. Due to privacy issues in respect of the youth players involved, LISA is not able to comment on the specifics of the infraction in this matter.”

In light of the ruling the Fusion team is disappointed in two ways. They believe that the decision was left too close to the end of the season, scuttling any chance of appeal. They also point out that the only other South Island team in the league is made up of players from the catchment of five former teams.

“We should have had a chance to know earlier,” said Fusion coach Caelen Bright. “There’s an appeal process but the [LISA] board meets once a month, and [provincials] will have already happened when it next meets.”

As of now, the LISA board ruled the Fusion team is disqualified from participating in the Provincial Cup and is stripped of all points from this season. The team would have been tied for first place with 23 points.

While the team is strong, and has had a successful season, it’s always been good, Bright said. She said the players in question have strong ties to the catchment and she was of the understanding they would be permitted.

An employee of LISA who answered the phone said the board speaks directly to the member organizations through its respective president or technical director.

Fusion president Barrie Keefe said it’s an unfortunate situation.

“It should be a policy that this should be dealt with before the season. We’d like the decision to be overturned, this punishes the girls,” Bright said.

The problem in general stems from one of attrition, Bright said, as none of Fusion’s local competition from last year fielded a team for this year. Last year the same Fusion team played against VIPL teams Bays, Gorge, Lakehill, Peninsula and Juan de Fuca. When none of the teams registered, a merger of those teams was approved by LISA earlier this year.

With a full roster of its own, Fusion did not seek permission to add out-of-catchment roster spots.

LISA is a district member of B.C. Soccer and is made up of the following 10 soccer clubs: Bays United Football Club, Cowichan Valley Soccer Association, Gorge Soccer Association, Juan de Fuca Soccer Association, Lakehill Soccer Association, Peninsula Soccer Association, Prospect Lake Soccer Club, Saanich Fusion Football Club, Salt Spring Island Youth Soccer Club and Sooke Soccer Club.

– This story was updated at 10 a.m. Tuesday to include a response from the LISA board.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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