More than 200 football players of all ages sweat out the sweltering heat to compete in the prestigious 48th annual North Surrey Football Bronze Boot tournament at Bear Creek Park last weekend.
The tournament serves as a proverbial kickoff to the new Vancouver Mainland Football League season that starts in early September.
Several North Surrey teams were successful, with a handful of teams winning their respective divisions.
North Surrey president Jean McPherson said the weekend went off without a hitch and represented the organization well.
“We had about 15 teams participate from all over the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley,” McPherson said.
For one of the oldest organizations in the region, she said teams look forward to the Bronze Boot and have the weekend circled on their calendar months before preparation for the season even begins. They’re helped out by several players returning to their old stomping grounds, now as coaches, who may be coaching North Surrey or another organization such as the Langley Stampeders.
“We filled up our tournament in April, we have coaches calling us before we even open the registration to book their spots,” she said. “A lot of coaches come back and our past president Joe Connelly had coached a lot of them, so it’s nice to see them come and give back.”
Play was split over two days, with the Atom, Peewee and Junior Bantam divisions playing on Saturday, while the Flag and Midget divisions played on Sunday.
The Bantam game was cancelled due to not having enough players.
McPherson says registration numbers have remained steady over the last few years, which gives her hope that North Surrey will continue to be a force in the community football scene for years to come. The club is also seeing encouraging numbers in some of the lower divisions, such as Peewee and Jr. Bantam.
That’s given them the opportunity to expand some of the facilities at Bear Creek Park, including a newly-renovated concession stand.
Adam Jenkins’ Peewee Hawks finished first in their division, defeating their fellow North Surrey Cardinals 14-0.
Jenkins believes the tournament is a great precursor to the season, as it allows his coaches to spread out playing time amongst his 24-man roster and find out where each player will perform best during the season.
“The preseason tournaments we compete in give us a chance to get all the kids playing in different positions and allows us to see what they’re capable of,” Jenkins said. “I was really proud of the way the kids battled.
“We also got some home-field bragging rights with the win (over the Cardinals), so that will add some competition throughout the season.”
The Vancouver Mainland Football League opening weekend goes this Labour Day long weekend and provincials are set for the Dec. 2 weekend at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley.