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Rockers' Soccer League kicks off seventh season
Spring has sprung in Chilliwack, and that means birds are singing, cherry blossoms are blooming and men all over town are getting ready to make their own dinners on Tuesdays and Thursdays as their significant others hit the soccer pitch.
More than 140 women from across Chilliwack returned to Vedder middle school’s athletic field this week for the seventh season of the Rockers’ Soccer League.
Started with one team in 2007, the seven-aside, over-30 women’s league now boasts 12 teams and has woven a network among local women from all walks of life.
“Everywhere you go there’s the knowing looks of the people who are out there,” said Anne Russell of the times she runs into fellow players out in the community, in offices and behind deli counters. “It’s kind of like a little secret handshake.”
How did it all start?
“Wine and friends,” organizer Tara Field says with a laugh.
Field and Russell are founding members of the original Rosedale Rockers, the over-30 women’s team that started it all in 2007.
Made up mostly of moms of kids at East Chilliwack elementary school (mostly moms who’d never played soccer before), the team first tried its luck in the regular leagues.
“We went out the first year and just got creamed in the ordinary women’s seven-aside league, which included women 18 and up and women who knew how to play soccer,” Russell said.
“We were kind of told we were not really welcome back,” said Field.
Undaunted, the team decided to form its own league, hoping to get enough players in the first year to make up three teams of 12 players of each for scrimmages.
The response from local women was swift and positive.
“That first year we had enough for eight teams,” Field said. “That’s what we’re really proud of. It was obviously a need. Women just wanted to get out, have fun.”
The league added four more teams three years ago to keep up with demand, and all those teams were full Tuesday night when the new season kicked off.
“It’s empowering women,” Russell said. “A lot of women in their 30s and 40s are saying yes to their employer and then going home and tending to the needs of their family, making sure their kids get to everything and not carving out a little time for themselves. For three months of the year, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, these moms carve a little time out for themselves.”
Along the sidelines over the years, Russell said the league has seen friendships and romances bloom, jobs offered and accepted and even a spin-off, fall soccer league formed.
“The networking that women do is very evident there,” Russell said.
Her favourite part, however, remains the game itself.
“When you’re out there for that hour, you forget all your other troubles,” she said. “You get to be silly and a member of a team again.”
Field sees the league as way for women to do something for themselves while setting a good example for their kids.
That’s why she has stayed on as an organizer even after a series of major soccer injuries took her out the game two years ago. “It’s very satisfying to me to say, ‘Hey, look what we’ve done.’”