League commissioner says onus is on C.B.S. squad to prove they belong in circuit
Conception Bay South Strikers FC have been granted a one-year leave from Challenge Cup play by the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA), but even league commissioner Gord Dunphy admits it will be a “monumental task” for the team to make it back in 2015.
The Strikers finished last this past season with one win, 25 losses and one tie.
So why did the league give them a chance to return after a one-year absence?
“In all fairness, they had paid their registration fee for 2014 season by the deadline and I felt they’ve given a good effort the last four years,” said Dunphy, who added the club’s 2014 registration fee has been returned.
Dunphy said C.B.S. didn’t give him any assurance they’ll be any more competitive than in the past years.
“I didn’t want to get into a scenario that we’d have issues in the middle of this year in regards to C.B.S. completing the 2014 season. I felt that in respect for the people who have put a considerable amount of work in the team that we’ll allow the team to take a one-year leave and give them time to review their program.
“They are the ones who have to do the work to prove they can come back. From an NLSA perspective, I figured we should give them a chance to come back and show they have the players and a team that can compete. The onus is on them,” said Dunphy.
Dunphy was disappointed some of the Canada Games players from the C.B.S. soccer system have decided to play elsewhere this summer along with a few of the older, better players who have been picked up by the remaining league teams. Dunphy also pointed out players from C.B.S. who play with other clubs this summer have no obligation of returning to the Strikers in 2015.
The league commissioner doesn’t sound too optimistic the Strikers will be back anytime soon.
“To be quite honest,” said Dunphy, “when you’ve been in the league for four years and you have to opt out of the fifth year because you’ve got problems getting or keeping players, l believe it will be very hard to recover after stepping aside for one year.”
Dunphy said that, in the long run, the C.B.S. soccer association had to get to a point where there’s pride in putting on the C.B.S. uniform the same as it is with the other clubs in the league who have a longer tradition.
“They got to get to the point where their younger players will want to stay with the C.B.S. program and not look to go anywhere else.”
In the meantime, the remaining teams — St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians, Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders, Feildians Ernst & Young and Mount Pearl That Pro Look Molson — will play each other six times for a total of 18 games.
There are no mid-week games this season. All the games will be played Saturday and Sunday with the first contests set for May 24.
Only three of the four clubs make the playoffs with the fourth-place team eliminated.
The first-place team receives a bye to the championship game while the semifinal features the second and third-place clubs.
The Aug. 29-31 playoffs will be held at King George V Park this season.
“This (season) is going to be the best we’ve had for a long time,” said Dunphy. “It’s like a season-long playoff. There’s less games, more quality teams and the games are going to be more meaningful.”