HARBOUR GRACE, NL — A pivotal player in the Conception Bay North soccer scene is receiving a special honour for his ongoing commitment to the sport.
Late last month, the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association announced it was naming Don Coombs Volunteer of the Year for 2017.
"I was shocked," Coombs told The Compass when asked about the honour. "I didn't know the nomination was in or nothing else, so I'm just humbled and honoured … I accept it on behalf of all the volunteers."
For decades, the Harbour Grace resident has been heavily involved in the Conception Bay North Minor Soccer Association, most recently serving as the club's president.
"I've been at this all my life, and it's about the kids with me and that's not going to change," said Coombs, a volunteer with the sport for 38 years.
According to a news release from the NLSA, he's recognized the need to bring technical training opportunities to the region and has taken a hands-on role with fundraising work for the association.
Coombs made arrangements in 2017 for technical staff from the provincial association to come to the area for coaching and player development courses, and he also looked after hosting arrangements for the Vancouver Whitecaps Pre-Prospects camp in Harbour Grace.
"I've already lobbied to get them back again (in 2018), and I've spoke to the Whitecaps themselves, and I think if we get them back the numbers that we had last year, they'll grow in leaps and bounds. Because everybody realizes how good the camp was."
In 2017, he helped the local soccer association host two provincial Mega tournaments. When duty calls, he also officiates games.
"It's a great sport," said Coombs. "It's sociable, it's a fitness thing, and it makes you work as a team player, so there's lots of good things in that sport."
Coombs' award will be presented April 5, 2018 at the NLSA's Hall of Fame inductee ceremony in St. John's.
"I look forward to accepting it on behalf of all the volunteers, because without the volunteers, there'd be no programs anywhere."