50 years in the making

Rudy Norman
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Springdale commemorates five decades of soccer

Don Huxter can still remember playing soccer in Springdale when it was known as it’s more common name around the world, football. While he’s hesitant to say how many years ago that was, perhaps, he admits that it was before the sport was an organized staple in the community, and nothing much more than something they did for fun.

“We used to play on a big field up behind where the Bell Aliant building is today,” he told a crowd assembled on Wednesday. The ceremony is attended by a couple dozen people – some wearing soccer attire and others obviously greatly affected by the sport that’s become a favourite in Springdale.

The purpose of this ceremony, though, is extra special, and perhaps starts back to those young boys playing on the field that doesn’t even exist anymore. It was to mark the unveiling of a commemorative sculpture that’s on display at the soccer field in Springdale now, and will be in succumbing years following. The sculpture is in celebration of 50 years in which the Town of Springdale has been active in its organized soccer efforts, and part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association.

For Don Huxter, he remembers the time when the town wasn’t part of the association, however, rivalry still ensued with some teams.

“I remember going to Little Bay Islands with the Air Cadets and playing against them,” he said. “Then we’d play against Little Bay. We’d leave here and walk down one day, and then we’d play the next day and walk back the day after that.”

Rivalry between Springdale and Little Bay Islands was popular, though, explains Huxter.

As the years progressed, soccer became more of a key role in the community, as more and more people started getting involved.

“There were other sports on the go as well, but it seemed like most people enjoyed soccer,” he said. “Then the ships would come in and we’d have some games against them – the town versus the ship, so it was all great fun.”

The biggest push for the sport, though, came in recent years when it became a competitive sport in the High School program. Huxter says since School Sport made soccer one of their competing activities, it’s taken off in Springdale, and other areas of the province.

“You have a lot of communities now who are big in soccer,” he said. “We hosted the provincial boys tournament here last year and it was obvious that a lot of schools have great programs.”

For Springdale, though, the history that goes back 50 years and longer is one that continues to play out today. Huxter says the new generation of soccer players coming up shows that the sport is still a big part of the community.

“We had some of the younger ones here today – it’s a bit surreal because some of them, I can remember seeing their parents, and even their grandparents play here,” he said. “It goes to show the history of it.”

To mark the 50-year anniversary, a sculpture was commissioned by a group of residents, lead by Huxter, and was designed and produced locally by builders and artists in the Springdale area.

The large fiberglass soccer ball on the sidelines of the pitch is to recognize that Springdale has been a soccer community for decades, and will likely stay that way for decades to come.

Some of the history of the sport in town can also be viewed at the Springdale Heritage Centre, as photos from over the years have been collected and efforts made to provide information about them.

Huxter says just like it took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to bring the sport of soccer to where it is today, it’s also a team effort to celebrate this anniversary.

“Everyone comes together and does what they have to do,” he said. “In the end that makes the load easier on everyone, and produces the best results.”

 

Organizations: Bell Aliant, Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, Air Cadets School Sport Springdale Heritage Centre

Geographic location: Springdale, Little Bay

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