When I moved to Canada from Paisley, Scotland I created a wee soccer league called Micro Footie. Thirty six players making up four teams. Every Friday the ritual was the same. Pick up four heavy metal nets from Queen Victoria elementary, walk them Down Commercial drive to Britannia and walk them back Monday morning. On game day, pick up a box of oranges at local grocer Norms, slice and bag them. The following year Micro Footie doubled. This meant the workload doubled. With this kind of progressive overload I was living the Greek mythological story of Milo in real time.
In year three, Micro Footie doubled again. Having nightmares about carrying sixteen heavy metal nets down Commercial Drive, I enlisted my best friend Ron to make lighter nets. The goals combined PVC with net from a fishing shop—we still have two of nets in our back garden which our two lads, Tiegen and Talisen regularly use and determined to wear out.
Then something magic happened.
As a boy, I dreamed of playing for Scotland and even better dreamed the impossible: Scotland beating Brazil or England. With World Cup Micro Footie all of these things could happen weekly. Therefore, in the fourth year decided to have the kids play for a World Cup Country. A decision was made to change the format, decorate the field with World Cup flags and have the shirts changed to replicate a country. Result: PLAYERS LOVED PLAYING WORLD CUP MICRO FOOTIE.
With our World Cup Micro Footie program the goal every Spring is to create a small sided game that encourages lots of additional touches + scoring opportunities and for the player to play free without constraints so they can develop their skills-creativity- communication and team work without the additional pressure of winning. We would conclude the season with an official World Cup tournament where winning matters.
A unforeseen bonus of the program is the atmosphere and community. Over ninety players playing at the same time means ninety plus parents cheering their sons or daughters on the sidelines (none of this behind the fence lark) making new friends and creating a tournament atmosphere.
Yet, with the growing popularity of the program something gaping was developing: my far from stellar organizational skills. For instance, when the registration was at 500, both players and coaches would find out ON THE DAY their teams by looking at this massive scroll of a sheet that had everyones names plastered on the Britannia Oval cement wall. The set up was akin to organizing 500 blind dates all at the same time. Like ‘Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima’ the coaches would take their country flag to their designated fields which was a cue to connect with their team of players. To add even more tension, the World Cup T-shirts would be getting printed the eve before kick off by resident artist Giles who would be frantically working throughout the night in the nearby Britannia lounge to have them ready on time. So fresh were these shirts that sometimes the ink would still be running down the back. Back then a frequent comment amongst players when they first put their World Cup Micro Footie shirt on their back was “Mum/Dad, my shirt feels really warm.”
Thank goodness for Britannia Coordinator Lori Moretto. If, as they say, the brain is split in two halves, Lori is the smart organized half. At 20+ years we have been working together longer than I have been married and she brings a rock solid foundation to micro footie. Lori is a wonderful gem of a woman who organizes the coach orientation + social, groups together teams, hires staff, picks the popular and always varied year-end present and single handedly manages the program from her office @ 1661 Napier. I really cannot thank her enough for her continued support. In my book Lori M. is bril!
Fast forward more than a decade and Brit World Cup Micro Footie regularly sells out in about five minutes with registration each year becoming a bit of an East Van event. We have combined Britannia Oval with four other fields: Empire, Robson, Garden and our newest location Memorial. Micro Footie was the first club in Canada to partner with Scottish Champions Celtic FC. Since then we have done three years of camps, with over three hundred players attending. Meanwhile, our year round MF development program has grown significantly and very quietly proving itself as a vehicle in developing creative skillful players.
(So far we have had four graduates of our program sign pro. In 2016 during the BC Summer Games, using a team of predominantly micro footie development players we were undefeated playing the best in the Province. At a showcase with IMG-an event which included over two hundred players from all over North America- micro footie player Rupert Postma was picked as the standout. Last week we took 11 players from our development program to another showcase in San Francisco. The question is will one of our players be picked again?)
Despite consistently looking for ways to freshen up the program I am often asked
*The people of East Van are the best with a flavour of nationalities that always wows,supports and cheers the players on weekly. Without East Van there is no micro footie.
*The micro footie coaches: The heart of our program. Each season over two hundred coaches devote their valuable time making the Micro Footie experience a unique one players remember for years.
*The staff. Both past and present. Micro Footie uses staff who have played in the program. Admittedly, this policy makes one feel very old when they like to remind they were coached by me when they were five.- Regardless,our coordinators are smashing. So many have been so good and their youthful energy rocks the Micro Footie spirit. Refreshingly they are without any pretence and if you notice, because they are so approachable many of the footie players love hanging around with them during match day Saturdays.
*Behind the micro foodie munchie bar is a woman called Stacy Kyle who pretty crazily married me. She operates the food service and in many respects, me too. What would I do without her…..!
*Our community sponsors play a big role too: Whether it’s Etheridge Home Renovation, Matcon or Liquids & Solids our sponsors tend to also be coaches in micro footie. Their involvement maintains a fresh local spirit.
*Lastly and far from leastly. Britannia. Way more than a community centre. When you get involved with them you quickly realize Britannia is a magic organization. Supportive in every way, open to ideas, and friendly. I love friendly and Britannia smiles better.
Okay that is the history so far. Thank you for your support and as always let’s keep the footie players going for goal!
For our development we have key factors that make our players stand out:
Quality coaching – a passion for the game – sessions that transfer to the game – a focus on skill, technique and creative play – activities sent by Celtic Football Club Academy which we implement on the micro footie players- a training gym that allows our players to be fitter and stronger than any player on the field.
FIFA Nationally Trained Licence, Athlete Performance Mentorship with EXOS, Coerver Youth Diploma. Owner of the Train like an Athlete studio and founder of Micro Footie. Jason was Technical Director for KLM in 2016/2017 season and Head Coach of Vancouver District in 2016 BC Summer Games.
Assistant coach to BC Summer Games team in 2016. Former pro player with an eye in having players develop skill and then take chances with the skill. Rory works specifically with micro footie development players.
Assistant coach to BC Summer Games team in 2016. Jorge is a magnificent young coach mentoring under Jason Kyle for the past three seasons and coordinator of micro footie’s Garden Park. Jorge will also be involved in the 2016 BC Summer Games team set up. The youth players love his humour and encouraging coaching style. Fantastic with youth players up to age twelve.
Recently completed his B prep Provincial Licence and assistant coach at youth KLM academy. Anthony is micro footie’s newest addition and recently created his own micro footie affiliation with the KLM club program.
Not many people know this but micro footie has a boutique style training facility for our players to get soccer fit located just blocks away from Empire. We call it Train like an Athlete and play double duty by also using as the micro footie office. At the studio matches are always on, to motivate, music playing pretty loud, and clients always Training like Athletes.
Emily teaches both the development players and a few parents (separate session of course) at Train like an Athlete to relax and increase their flexibility through yoga. Every Wednesday she teaches the best weekly sessions.