Sports

Chilliwack's soccer neighbor has money troubles

Alex Butler,

Black Press

 

After facing financial difficulties last year, Abbotsford’s soccer association will do its best to move forward, said Dan Village, the club’s vice-president technical.

Last March, the soccer association was forced to refund ticket sales for its annual lottery – which raffles off a car donated from a local dealer – after the organization failed to get the proper licences.

The raffle is an important fundraiser for the club.

But following the complaint filed to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the B.C. Government, the club was fined $500 and must undergo audits by the gaming commission.

While the audit is in progress, the club is unable to run the lottery or access grants from the branch, which accounts for a significant portion of the club’s funding.

Village said that additionally, with many registration fees for the year not yet paid, the club is unable to pay wages for some of their coaches and other staff.

Village said where the club has been lenient on collecting fees in the past, now they are “playing hardball” to make sure registration fees come in.

Last June, it was revealed that the Abbotsford soccer association had a deficit of more than $70,000.

The club had nearly $50,000 in outstanding accounts, including about $11,000 owed to the City of Abbotsford for field fees, $13,100 to the former general manager’s MasterCard, $6,500 under the president’s MasterCard, and about $14,000 to Soccer Express, a sports equipment supply company.

Village said the club is currently sitting at about a $115,000 deficit.

He said they hope to soon hear the results of their final audits, and then will be able to apply for the next lottery license and grants.

Village said they are working to decrease spending and have “taken a real look at some of the budgeting,” with new efforts and volunteers to help sort out the club’s finances.

One area that Village said could help cut costs would be finding more volunteer coaches – though he added the club already has many dedicated volunteers.

In 2008, Abbotsford had a total membership of 1,932 players. By 2013, that number dropped to 1,069.

At the same time, Chilliwack’s numbers have risen from 1,651 in 2008 to 1,743 in 2013.

President of Langley United soccer, Dave Kasper, said he has concerns about the effect of Abbotsford’s troubles, saying the programs in the Fraser Valley interlock enough that other clubs will feel the effect.

“As far as we’re concerned, it has ramifications on the whole district. Despite our differences at the executive level, which we never let affect the kids and the soccer, all clubs in the Fraser Valley work together on broader governance issues, program and scheduling issues at all age groups. (Abbotsford’s) issues are bound to affect all clubs in the Fraser Valley at some point coming up.”

He said the soccer clubs run as non-profits and costs are directly associated with the number of registrants in the clubs each year – meaning they shouldn’t be running deficits.

Kasper said he hopes the organization finds a way to refocus the club back on the kids who play soccer.

Village said that is the club’s intent, and they plan to move forward and provide a great program for Abbotsford’s youth.

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