By Chris Lewis|August 5, 2021
Now that the loans on its Topsail turf are officially paid off, the CBS Soccer Association is setting its eyes on a new endeavour.
The club paid off the last remaining loan on the state-of-the art pitch last month.
Board member and past president of the association Calvin Randell said the members of the organization were elated with the achievement. He recalled a time when the association did not even have a club house. So, Randell and others went lobbying governments for help.
The association moved into the club house in 2007, and Randell said the agreement the association came to with the Town of CBS council at the time was to pay approximately $160,000 over the course of 10-years.
With the help of some government grants, the generosity of certain people and groups, and the dedication of the association’s volunteers, the club managed to retire the debt on its headquarters.
The association then began setting its sights on a better playing field. There had long been a soccer field at the Topsail site, but it was rugged, in some places even rocky, and configured in a way that saw many an errant game or practice ball launch irretrievably into the waters of the bay.
“We had a beautiful club house there that was serving our needs, but we discovered that the field was just not adequate,” Randell said. “There were times we couldn’t use it because it just wasn’t suitable. We’d go up to Sgt. Ned Nugent’s field. It’s not a regulation sized pitch.”
So, the club members started brainstorming ideas for how they could raise money for a better turf.
At the time, the federal government had a program called Recreation Infrastructure in Canada, which allowed recreation facilities to be paid in thirds: one third federal, one third provincial, and one third municipal.
After sitting down with politicians from all levels of government, an agreement was reached between the association and the Town of CBS.
“We said we would do the same as what we were doing for the club house at the time,” Randell said, noting that the two payment plans overlapped for a time. “We would pay x number of dollars over 10-years. And that’s what we all agreed to.”
Between the club house and the turf, Randell said, the association over the past decade has paid just over $300,000, plus in-kind contributions worth another $200,000 on top of that.
“We wanted to be a partner, we didn’t want to just show up with our hands out asking for money,” he said.
This summer marked the last year of payment on that turf. The COVID-19 pandemic got in the way of the club paying off the bill last year.
Randell said the Association has grown substantially over the years. Back in its early years, they would see registration of about 500 players. Now, that number has nearly tripled at around 1,400 registered players. As the association grows, so does its needs.
“We’re literally bursting at the seams,” Randell said. “We now need to have another field. A regulation sized pitch.”
Although another outdoor facility would be ideal, Randell said the perfect solution would be an indoor turf. During the winter, Randell said, the association sends players to an indoor facility in St. John’s where they rent space at a considerable cost to the club, an estimated $40,000 a year.
“So, we’ve been discussing it between the board members. We’d be very, very interested in partnering with the different levels of government to figure out how we can build an indoor facility right here in CBS, so that our players don’t need to travel all the way to St. John’s,” Randell said. “If CBS Soccer has to pay an annual payment, well we’d like to be paying that to the municipal government here instead of somewhere else.”
Randell said an indoor facility would benefit athletes in the entire region.
He figures it might work well as part of a future community centre – something he feels the community is already in desperate need of.
The next step, he said, is to sit down with different levels of government and map out what such a development would require, and what it would cost.
From there, the specifics can be ironed out at a later date.
“It’s all about serving the community at the end of the day,” Randell said. “When I can go down to that field, and I see children or adults enjoying themselves, then that’s what reminds me why we do this. That’s where the satisfaction in all this comes from – when I see players out there running around, having fun, and making use of what we’ve worked towards.”