Thursday night is a big night for many women in the Shuswap.
It’s blocked off on their calendars nearly year round, so they can get together to do one of the things they love. Play soccer.
Some are accomplished players, others are new to the game. Some are young, some are older.
This is SWRSA, the Shuswap Women’s Recreational Soccer League.
In some communities, only women who are skilled players and want to dedicate at least two days a week to an organized team play soccer. Not so in Salmon Arm.
SWRSA was born in 2007, thanks to Edie Lowes and a small group of dedicated women.
During Lowes’ years volunteering with youth soccer and watching her own girls play, she’d seen many moms on the sidelines, some of whom played Masters soccer out of Vernon.
“I thought, of all the people in this town, there’s got to be 100 women 19-and-up who want to play soccer,” she recounts. “It turns out there was.”
One night in October 2007, Lowes rented the Little Mountain Field House and invited all the women she knew who played soccer or might play.
“I plied them with cider and wine and pizza,” she laughs, “and we built the club that night – a whiteboard in the corner, we created a board of directors that night…”
The first outdoor season was held in the spring of 2008, with more than 110 women signing up. Six teams were formed.
Lorena Woods was registrar for 11 years.
“Edie was amazing as she had piles of paper work to do, she had to set up the constitution, and got the website up and going for registration…”
“I’m really proud that Edie stepped up and did this. I really am.”
From sparse financial beginnings, the club became sustainable. Seasons were added a bit at a time. Along with the April to June outdoor season came two indoor seasons. Fitness and skills sessions were added. Four outdoor games in September made the most of the fading evening light.
Kristine Wickner, a current SWRSA board member, writes: “SWRSA allowed me to connect to a part of myself (the athlete) that I had lost for a long time, something that gave me a confidence I didn’t know I was missing. It also allowed me to meet people and form friendships that exist to this day – at least half of my current friends in Salmon Arm (of all ages by the way) can be traced back to my first year of soccer in some way.”
Lowes, who is stepping back her involvement after a dozen years, says it has given her immense joy to see mothers playing soccer with their daughters.
“My dream would be to have the club keep growing; we’re growing in seasons but not in numbers. All those young girls watching their moms play, you’re our next players.”
Registration for this year’s spring season will begin shortly. The league starts on May 9, with a “Meet your team/pick up your jersey” night on May 2 at the fields at Little Mountain. For more information, check the website: www.swrsa.net or on Facebook at Shuswap Women’s Recreational Soccer Association, @SWRSArecsoccer