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CBS on the ball for Challenge Cup finals

By Alexandra Brothers, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / August 18, 2023 Edition

You could hear the horns and the roar of the fans from a kilometre away this past weekend as the CBS soccer community hosted the annual province-wide Challenge Cup Senior Men’s Championship for the first time.

Although the CBS soccer pitch has been home to many big events such as Atlantic and national championships, and visits from Team Canada ace Christine Sinclair and the Prime Minister, until this year it had never had the chance to host the Challenge Cup Championships, said CBS Soccer Association General Manager Darrin Bent.

The event included a showdown between perennial rivals Holy Cross and the Feildians and daunting efforts at upsets by the host CBS Strikers and a neighboring squad from Paradise in hopes of capturing the longstanding most coveted prize in Newfoundland soccer. The double blue clad Feildians were the ultimate winners.

“It was a great honour to be able to hold the premier senior men’s soccer event this year at CBS,” Bent said. “We were very proud to be able to welcome the best men’s teams in the province to Conception Bay South.”

What made the event even more special for CBS residents was that it happened to fall on the year of the Town’s 50th anniversary.

Bent described the weekend-long championships as “a fantastic three days of soccer.”

The event drew some of the largest crowds the CBS Soccer Association has ever seen. Bent estimated around 4,000 spectators took in the events over the course of the weekend, not including the team members, staff, and volunteers who were also in attendance.

“It was a great atmosphere to have that many people at the Topsail Turf for this event,” Bent said.

The Town was well prepared for the scale of event, he added. Staff and volunteers with the CBS Soccer Association put in a lot of hard work to ensure it ran smoothly. Expecting a large turnout, they had traffic management measures in place and offered busing to the field from the parking lot of Holy Spirit High to make getting to the games as easy as possible. At the height of their season in the summer, the association has over 70 staff members and approximately 100 regular volunteers, said Bent. For a special event like the Challenge Cup Championships though, even more volunteers came out to lend a hand.

CBS council’s chairperson of recreation, Ward 1 councillor Shelley Moores, who is also involved with CBS Soccer, praised the event’s organizers and said the Town was “a big help” in running the event. She gave a shout out to all the teams that participated and to all the staff, volunteers, and spectators who supported the players.

As for the games themselves, spectators were left on the edge of their seats. All the games were very close, said Bent. The winners were each separated by only one goal. Although CBS’s Senior Men’s team did not get the chance to compete in the Challenge Cup Championship game on their home turf as they narrowly lost to their competitors in the last minute of the play-off game, there were many other victories for the club this weekend.

The CBS Girls U15 Tier One team won gold in the provincial tournament, meaning they will travel to Ontario for the National Championships. The CBS Boys U15 Tier One team won bronze while the Tier Two U15 Girls and Boys teams won silver and bronze respectively. As for the two CBS Girls U13 teams, one took home gold and the other silver.

“All in all, it was a very successful weekend of soccer in CBS, and it was great to see so many people out,” said Moores.

“This is just the start of the medal season here in CBS,” added Bent. “There’s more coming.” Next weekend the U17 players will compete, and the following weekend the U12 and U13 players from the premier league are playing.

As for the Challenge Cup Weekend, hosting it was another success under the belt of the CBS Soccer Association, which has grown to become the biggest club in the province. Bent has been working with the association for 10 years and has seen the club grow substantially during his time as general manager.

“We’ve seen our numbers grow greatly, especially since COVID, and we are almost maximized out at our fields for youth,” he said. “We have more competitive teams than we’ve ever had before. We have more House League teams than we’ve ever had before. And we continue to grow. It’s a great organization. It’s a growing organization. And we’re looking forward to a great future.”

From left, local soccer players Mia Betances, Avery Strong, and Emily Wiscombe present the Challenge Cup Senior Men’s Soccer League’s Coach of the Year Award to CBS Strikers head coach Ryan Caines during a ceremony held at Topsail Pitch this past weekend. Some 4,000 people turned out for the Challenge Cup finals which were held in CBS for the first time.

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