Canada Soccer Nation Champions presented by Toyota

After announcing the suspension of all sanctioned soccer in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada Soccer, led by its Medical Committee and in collaboration with its Member Associations, set forward its Return-to-Soccer Guidelines in support of the development of Public Health protocols guiding the safe return to in-person training and soccer activity. Member Organizations across the country were guided by the protocols developed and as such were required to facilitate a soccer experience in consideration of the safety measures required to ensure safe sport. Canada Soccer launched Canada Soccer Nation Champions presented by Toyota in recognition of the extraordinary circumstances and corresponding requirements.

Nominations for Canada Soccer Nation Champions were open to Member Organization clubs and academies to nominate volunteers that met all of Canada Soccer’s Safe Sport Roster considerations including a valid background check, up-to-date Respect Group, Inc. training credentials, and the Member Organization being a member in good standing of a Canada Soccer Member Association.

Alberta

Roxanne Boyce – St. Albert Soccer Association

Roxanne has been involved with St. Albert Soccer since 2008 as  an enthusiastic parent, volunteer Team Manager & Coach in both our Community Recreational and Impact Club programs.  In addition, she joined the St. Albert Soccer Association Board of Directors in the capacity of Community – Junior Program Director in 2019.  Roxanne will always step up to help out wherever needed and brings a wealth of experience and ideas to solving challenges at all levels including:

  • Team Manager since Indoor 2012
  • Coach and Team manager since 2017
  • Board of Director Representative since 2019

Volunteer support is key in the overall general overall everyday operations of our Organization for various reasons.  As a non profit organization, we have all potential revenues allocated for with budget requirements.  This results in our successes often being the result of various volunteers going over and above what is required within simple duties to provide an even more rewarding, positive and ultimately beneficial experience that is remembered quite fondly.   This helps drive the desire for membership with a feeling of true value and inclusiveness, whether it be for existing member families or those just starting their journey within our organization.

Roxanne Boyce has played an integral part in St. Albert Soccer Association’s (SASA) Return to Soccer Covid-19 guidelines. Without a child in our programs, she can be depended on for the fulfillment of a variety of roles within our Organization. On top of Coaching a U19 team, she was constantly depended on to help ensure SASA delivered a safe return to sport for over 600 members. Throughout the Outdoor Season, her goal was to provide players with the opportunity to have a season that felt as normal as can be, despite the additional challenges provided on through Covid-19.

Roxanne assisted in the safe distribution of jerseys to all of the teams that participated in the outdoor and indoor seasons. Without her strong organization skills, this event would not have been delivered in as safe of a manner as it was. On top of jersey distribution, Roxanne was also an asset in informing parents and players of the additional Covid-19 safety protocols that were in place. Some of that involved parent education and sanitization reminders, along with Covid-19 Symptom Checks upon entering the facility.

She was a champion for first time coaches to look up to for guidance as they navigated through anything but an ordinary season. She helped guide the safe and successful delivery of on-field practices amongst a number of different teams across many age groups and genders, ranging from our Under 5 program up to our Under 19 program and everything in between. If a coach were to suddenly become unavailable at the last minute, Roxanne was always available to step in and assist in any capacity that was needed of her, at the drop of a hat. On top of assisting coaches in place, she continually works towards the recruitment of SASA Alumni for coaching roles within the organization and continues to be an asset for this organization.

British Columbia

Spiro Pegios – Surrey United Soccer Club

Spiro has been with Surrey United Soccer Club for 20+ years and served in a variety of roles. He has been a youth coach, a BC Premier League coach and is currently the Head Coach of the Surrey United Women’s Premier team recently inducted into the BC Soccer Hall of Fame. Spiro also serves on the Board of Directors as the Senior Vice President of the Club. 

Spiro has given his time and energy to this club, its players, volunteers and member families selflessly over the years. You can find Spiro at the park generally discussing the Club and promoting the game of soccer to all that will take time to chat. As Senior Vice President, Spiro plays a critical role within the organization and provides assistance and support throughout the organization at all levels be it selling raffle tickets, stepping on the field to alleviate a coach who may be absent, cheering on our mini players or assisting with field set up and take down for our adaptive Super Soccer program.

Spiro readily accepted the new (and additional) role of Safety Officer at Surrey United. The role was specifically created to provide direct support to our members in their interpretation and application of our Return to Play Plan.

Spiro has been instrumental in monitoring Canada Soccer, BC Soccer, Viasport, and health authority updates so the Club can continue to quickly adapt to changes in Return to Play parameters, recommendations, and restrictions.

As the second wave of COVID-19 hit, members were able to contact Spiro for guidance and instruction under the Surrey United Illness Policy in a way that provided team staff and Club volunteers a consistent approach to communicating and implementing parameters as needed throughout the challenges of Return to Play. He has been practical and consistent which has provided our entire membership with comfort and a level of trust with the Club that would have been difficult otherwise.

Finally, in taking ownership of this new role, Spiro implemented new Health and Safety moments at the start of all Club Executive meetings to ensure the Club culture around health and safety becomes embedded into everything the Club does beyond COVID-19 and into the future.

Spiro’s career as a frontline worker was already impacted heavily by the pandemic we found ourselves in. We have been incredibly fortunate to have his attention and dedication to this role and the Return to Play implementation in our Club. There is no way we would have been successful with an 86% retention rate during a pandemic without his ability to build and earn the trust of our membership during 2020. 

Manitoba

Bobbi Schram – Westman Regional Soccer Association

Bobbi has been very heavily involved with soccer in the Westman Region as a volunteer for a little over 8 years now. Bobbi is a former director with the Westman Regional Soccer Association. In that capacity, she looked after many administrative tasks in addition to her director duties.

For the last couple years, Bobbi has also taken on a critical role with the Westman FC competitive club soccer that represents our region. She coaches one team, supports coach education initiatives for the rest of the teams, and helps organize all aspects of Westman FC programming from the registration, coordination, scheduling, and parent follow up.

Bobbi has completed coaching courses (she is currently enrolled in the Provincial B), and has completed board governance training.

Bobbi was critical in helping to plan the safe return to play for the 2020 outdoor and indoor seasons. She played a big role in the planning, educating, and implementing of all return to play plans that were created due to COVID-19, and helped to ensure these protocols were followed so that soccer could continue in the stages that were permitted at each time throughout 2020.

We are a regional soccer association that has member organizations within 6 communities spread out around the region. As a result of this, volunteers are the sole reason we are able to operate. We currently have 1 staff member to serve the whole region. Volunteers are key in the organization and administration of all of our programming.

With the 2020 that the world experienced, this made the volunteer role even more critical, in a time when many were facing difficulties of their own.

Bobbi continued to put extra time in as a coach and club facilitator. This included team sessions over zoom, while also assisting other coaches with coach education and coach support.

Bobbi also assisted with the guidelines and processes for return to play for our region. We used these standards across the whole region when programming was allowed to continue again in the summer. Bobbi is a leader, and when things became increasingly difficult throughout 2020, and people were looking for leadership and optimism more than ever, Bobbi continued to sacrifice personal time to help find solutions for all soccer players within our region.

Bobbi helped with the interpretation and clarification of all return to play guidelines as set by the health authorities, Manitoba Soccer, and Canada Soccer. She assisted in the scheduling of programming and helping to find adequate facilities. Bobbi also helped to ensure that all coaches had access to all items that they would require (sanitizing material, hand sanitizer, etc), and assisted with the info sessions to both parents and players. These info sessions were created to ensure that all members were on the same page and were clear on the guidelines so that soccer could safely return within our region.

Nova Scotia

Lindsay Van Kessel – Thunder FC

Lindsay is a critical community champion within the development of soccer on the South Shore of the Province of Nova Scotia. His tireless work to support his own organization and others alike is invaluable to our sport.

President, administrator, soccer development lead, coach, and community leader are just some of the roles Lindsay has filled through his contributions as a dedicated volunteer. He currently sits on numerous boards and is a central figure in soccer development on Nova Scotia’s South Shore with Thunder FC. Lindsay is a recruiter and mentor for coaches of all ages and stages. Thunder FC’s coaching retention rate is well over 90%, and the club has experienced membership growth every year for the past three years.

Lindsay was a great person to go through the Return-to-Soccer Guidelines with. He brought a sense of planning and offered critical reflection, allowing us to better understand the contextualization of the guidelines. His community benefited from his work. Without him knowing, so did our own provincial processes, as Lindsay played a large part in how we reflected on and evaluated our work. 

Ontario

Dan De Maria – Guelph Soccer

Dan has been a volunteer community coach with Guelph Soccer since 2014 working with boys and girls from U-5 through to U-12 over the past six years.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Guelph Soccer. All coaches at our Club are volunteers which positions use uniquely because everyone is involved for the benefits of the players and their passion for the game. Without volunteers, Guelph Soccer would not exist. Volunteers bring a skill set and unique strengths to our organization that create an incredibly diverse community of people leading our players in their pathway.

Dan provided education to his players, parents and his group of coaches to highlight the importance of keeping everyone safe but the value of getting back to play.

Going above and beyond by creating a small army of volunteers beside him to help enforce protocols and was always a model team for others. As a young girl’s team, Dan had them committed, organized and valuing what soccer can bring beyond the field.

He was always first at the field to ensure proper setup and execution of return to play protocols. Dan always made time for players, parents, and other coaches to ensure everyone felt comfortable and safe in the return to play.  Additionally, Dan was extremely creative in his session plans always adapting throughout the different phases. Thanks to Dan’s leadership this girl’s group continues to thrive throughout the pandemic.

Prince Edward Island

Kara Sabean – Kensington Soccer

Kara Sabean has been a volunteer member of the Kensington and Area Soccer club for the past 12 years. She has held various roles including In-House Soccer program coordinator, Club Secretary, and most recently the Youth League Program Director. She attends Soccer PEI board meetings on behalf of our club and she was actively involved in coordinating the Covid-19 Operational Plans to return to play. She coordinates coaches and acts as an ambassador for our club within the community.

Kara serves as an important member of our small club board of directors. Not only does she attend every board meeting but she actively coordinated the entire Youth League Program for Ages U9 to U15. She coordinated finding volunteer coaches, organizing teams, and playing fields. She coordinates with surrounding clubs to share field information and scheduling details.

Kara was the leader of our Return-to-Soccer program and was the main coordinator of the executive of our operational plan. She bought sanitization supplies , organized game marshals and Covid volunteers. She built individual kits for each of our volunteers and organized getting signage and pilons for directing the flow of traffic.  She helped us educate all of our volunteers around the important guidelines to be followed and ensured that we never had a game or practice that was missing. In the early stages of return to play, Kara could be found at the fields every night of the week. She was diligent and organized and all of our volunteers felt they were adequately supported in their efforts to keep everyone safe. We had a successful season and that can largely be attributed to Kara’s great efforts.

Quebec

Benoît Brabant – Deltas de Laval

Benoît Brabant holds the position of Director of Soccer within the Sports Committee of Deltas de Laval (multi-sport organization) and has been a volunteer for the committee for over 20 years. He acts as a contact for soccer members. His dedication and contribution to the Deltas Soccer Club have greatly benefited the players, volunteers, and coaches of the club and the Laval region. The Deltas de Laval has continuously improved thanks to his unconditional involvement and his almost daily commitment.

Benoît gave an enormous amount of his time to Deltas de Laval and its members. It is estimated that he contributes more than 1,500 hours (day, evening and weekend) per year to Deltas de Laval and soccer in the Laval region. He takes care, among other things, of club administration and daily operations, but is also involved with the region (member of the board of directors) and the municipality of Laval in order to constantly advance soccer in all its aspects. He has also developed, with the other members of the club, for several years now, academies for players from 4 to 12 years old taking place on Saturdays and Sundays before the start of the summer season.

Benoît was part of the Return to Play committee for the Laval region. His ideas greatly facilitated the return to soccer in Laval last summer. His experience and dedication ensured that all scenarios were well considered and that the rules were applied perfectly to ensure the players, volunteers, and coaches a safe return on the pitch in consideration of the established standards. Benoît also spent a lot of time organizing and deploying return-to-play health protocols in the field.

Saskatchewan

Chad Striker – Swift Current Soccer Association

Swift Current Soccer Association has been the recipient of the countless hours of effort Chad Striker has put into our club.

Almost 2 years ago, Chad expanded his reach in the club, joining the board of directors for SCSA and quickly emerging as the united competitive coordinator. This was a massive undertaking with his focus on that each age group had opportunities to play, grow their sense of team and coach development to strengthen the program. At the same time, Chad worked towards and successfully attained his ‘B’ coaching license. All of this was in his spare time, while providing leadership all day as a school principal.

This summer, Chad was the first one to step up after the initial wave of COVID to ensure that kids had the opportunity to play again. He worked countless hours alongside public health and our board in a volunteer capacity to orchestrate return to play day camps for the kids. No stone was left unturned to ensure that it could be done safely and providing an experience the kids would not soon forget.

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