Webisode 3

Hey Everyone,

Here is the third of our five webisodes for the blog. This one focuses on the MSA themselves, with a particular look at the WSF Indoor Complex, where MSA offices are based.

Reminder: You can check out all the webisodes in the section on the side of the blog. Enjoy!

You Need to Know - PT I

For the next little while, my goal here on the blog will be to fill readers in on some things that the MSA does that they probably don’t know about.

Let’s start with something that everyone can get excited about…free money!

Every year, the MSA, in association with Sport Manitoba, hands out a number of scholarships to people involved in soccer here in Manitoba.

This past week, Brandon University student Adam Rocan received the association’s flagship award, the Archie Nunn Scholarship. The scholarship is given to someone who has been involved in MSA sanctioned programs for three or more years and is currently involved in soccer.

The scholarship is named after Archie Nunn, who was a dedicated volunteer within a number of soccer associations for years. Nunn’s dream was to bring the sport to as many kids as he possibly could.

Rocan has long been one of the top young players in Manitoba and also won the WYSA scholarship for this year. The MSA blog has been in contact with Adam about an interview so watch for a profile on him coming soon…

While the Archie Nunn Scholarship is the MSA’s flagship award, members of the soccer community are always considered, and often win, Sport Manitoba endorsed scholarships here are a few of those scholarships available through the MSA:

Manitoba Foundation for Sports ScholarshipAwarded to young athletes who have participated at a provincial level in amateur sport, shown high academic standing and are involved in volunteering/coaching in amateur sport. Students must be entering post-secondary education and can win between $500-1000.

Male and Female Youth Athlete of the YearEvery year, the MSA nominates one girl and one guy for this award. This nominee will get to attend the Sport Manitoba Sports Awards night and receive a cheque for $500 dollars for their achievements.

Coach of the YearSoccer coaches are commonly nominated for this award, which is split into three categories. The Vince Leah Award is given to a coach working with grassroots athletes at any level. The Jack Hunt award is given to a coach working with athletes preparing to play at higher levels. An example of this would be coaches involved with the Provincial Programs. Finally, the Peter Williamson award is given to coaches working with national caliber athletes.

Dave Eggertson Award for Community ServiceThis award is given to someone who takes the time out of their lives to help out in their community. This could be coaching or volunteering while maintaining a high academic level and participating actively in sport. The MSA nominate one athlete for this award and the winner will receive $500 for the North West Company.

Portrait of a President

Being president of the Manitoba Soccer Association is arguably the biggest role you can have within the sport, here in our province. Despite knowing that, new president Christine O’Connor wasn’t even going to run.

“I had done every other position on the board before and I wanted to take time out to spend time with my youngest son,” she said.

It wasn’t until various members of the community asked her, that O’Connor finally decided to throw her hat into the ring.

She was clearly the perfect candidate for the job as her resume in the sport is basically unrivaled, within Manitoba.

O’Connor was a founding member of the Winnipeg Women’s Soccer League and was the manager of the inaugural Manitoba All-Star women’s team. She also acted as an administrator for the national women’s team, director of women’s soccer for the MSA, ran the provincial programs and was even the event manager for women’s soccer at the highly successful Pan Am Games.

The past few years, O’Connor has been busy running Sweat Shack, a soccer store that she has owned for thirty years. She said she was moved to return to the MSA fold because of one particular issue.

“The one thing that really ticked me off was the kids and that some players who wanted to play on provincial teams couldn’t play because their parents couldn’t afford it.”

“Sometimes the decisions came down to whether or not the parents could write a cheque,” she said, angrily.

O’Connor said she believed playing for Manitoba should be an honour open to everyone and that she was actively helping set up a fund to pay the fees for players who could not afford it.

With that as her central campaign issue, O’Connor was chosen as President at the MSA’s Annual General Meeting on Nov. 6. While she said she was bogged down in paper work right now, she will be flying out to Vancouver next week to participate in the bid process for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. She said her ultimate goal was to have Manitoba chosen as one of the host provinces.

It’s been a big couple of months for O’Connor, who was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame not long before taking this position. She struggled for words in trying to describe her honour.

“I found it very humbling, I’ve never had a feeling like that. It’s just indescribable really,” she managed.

Despite all the accolades, O’Connor is keeping her feet on the ground and is committed to helping move soccer forward.

When asked what would make her two-year term as president success, she did not mince words.

“If you go in and you don’t make any changes and you don’t make things better, then you don’t deserve to have been elected in the first place.”

For more on O’Connor and her accomplishments, check out her “Christine O’Connor for MSA President” profile on Facebook or head over to the MSA website.

A New Face at the Helm

The Manitoba Soccer Association has an exciting new president.

The MSA held their Annual General Meeting this weekend and one of the main features of the meeting is to elect a president for the organization. The president is the highest ranking official in the MSA family and we could not have hoped for a better person to lead us into the future than Christine O'Connor.

O'Connor has been a leader of the soccer community in Manitoba for a long time and, as I tweeted, was recently announced as a 2010 inductee into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Christine has been busy this week but I have arranged to meet up with her to conduct an interview with her covering everything from her soccer filled past to her ideas for the future of the MSA. Look for that post in the coming days.

To wet your appetite, here is Christine's bio as shown on the program for the 2010 Manitoba Sports HOF induction ceremony.

Born in Manchester, England, Christine O’Connor began her soccer building career in the early 1980’s with the founding of the Sweat Shack Women’s Soccer Team. Since that time she has served numerous roles provincially including MSA Director for Women’s Soccer, Provincial Teams Director, Director of Senior Soccer, and Vice- President.

Nationally she has been named Administrator for the Canadian Women’s
Team from 1986-89, organizing the team for numerous international matches and a member of the CSA’s Competitions Committee and chaired the national Club championship in 1996.

On the international scene O’Connor was heavily involved in the
1999 Pan Am games in Winnipeg. O’Connor currently resides in Winnipeg.

It's clear that the future of the MSA is in more than capable hands.

Regional Training Centre - A chance to be the best

Earlier this year, soccer in our province made a huge breakthrough when Winnipeg was awarded a Regional Training Centre as part of Canada's National Training Centre program.

The premise is simple. The Canadian Soccer Association set up a number of the regional centres across the country where the best players from that region train as a group in order to move their games forward. The best players from these centres go on to national centres in hopes of earning sports on youth national teams.

It is hoped that this program will provide the kind of breakthrough that our national teams need to step up to that elite level.

Here in Winnipeg, the centre is run by Rob Gale (for more information on Rob and his work, check out an earlier post) and has been very successful in unearthing the top young players we have.

The 48 players in the program are from a wide variety of age groups and are judged on a number of things, from their soccer skills, to their teamwork on and off the field, to their intellectual and social skills.

When the program began, Hector Vergara told Free Press soccer writer Jerrad Peters that it was "a very exciting project" and he has recently told me similar things, saying it was a massive step forward for soccer in our province.

As of now, several Manitobans are involved in National team programs, including Alison Clarke who played for Canada's winning team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup recently. The win ensured the team a spot in the World Cup.

Clearly, the program has the potential to move Manitoba to the very forefront of soccer in our country and that can only be a good thing.

The centre has been running out of Glenlawn Collegiate but is moving inside for the winter and will now be held at the WSF complex on the campus of the University of Manitoba.

Stay tuned for a webisode on the centre coming up by December. To learn more about the program now and how you can get involved, check out these links: