Dear members of the Richmond FC family,
It’s my privilege and honour to write to you as the newly elected Chair of Richmond FC. My name is Chris Parry. I’ve been coaching soccer since 1988, including nearly ten years at RFC as a parent coach, director, and RSA District board member.
At our recent AGM, we brought on a large number of new board members and quickly established three goals we are united in as priorities for RFC over the coming year.
1) To be open to immediate discussions and action toward the merging of all Richmond football clubs so our community can be truly united moving forward;
2) The creation of less expensive football programming options, and streamlining of expenses to avoid fee increases in the future;
3) To expand Richmond soccer in the community, bringing football to more families while also engaging in charitable works.
It is my pleasure to report we have made immediate progress on many of these fronts in the first few weeks of this board’s tenure.
STREET SOCCER IS UNDERWAY
You’ll have noticed we’ve split age groups, genders, and divisions up this spring so kids can play games against their friends, in the absence of a substantial spring league. This has allowed us to schedule more playing time each week than our players would normally be exposed to, has allowed younger players to see what levels they should be aspiring to, has given older players the chance to mentor younger kids, has given players exposure to a wider array of coaches, and has allowed div 1 and div 2 players to show what they can do next and against Metro club mates.
Our ambition is to find local clubs that can fulfill friendlies deeper into the season, but right now we’re seeing our players happy just to be out playing again, and that’s a heck of a nice change after the last year.
At our AGM, it was made clear by our membership that there is broad support to pursue a union of all Richmond football clubs, and our board has heard that call loud and clear. While RFC and RUSC are playing home games only, as the Cascadia League couldn’t be properly started in time for the spring, field space is a little more scarce than usual so, to show good faith to the other club and with encouragement by the city, RFC has opened some Saturday field time to others.
Our own board has met three times in the last two weeks to select a group of individuals who will be available at any time to discuss merger options if such an opportunity arises, in new board members James Begg and Craig Hughes, as well as longstanding board member Dan Brodie. All three have professional experience in negotiations and mergers and have put in long hours over several years for Richmond’s football community.
In addition, we have reached out to Canada Soccer, BC Soccer, and the city, and received assurances from all three groups that they will provide mediation and support for merger talks should they happen. As a club, we know there are some families and friends that are genuinely frustrated that they have to choose one side or another, and rectifying that situation is our primary focus for 2021.
LOW COST/NO COST/STREAMLINED PROGRAMMING
Our Executive Director Marius Roevde and our Technical Director David Thorburn have debuted a new program for the spring, bringing U4 players out on Sunday mornings, and the results have been fantastic. With these new tots, combined with our usual spring programming intake, our registration numbers are back in line with our pre-pandemic 2019 numbers.
Marius has been in talks with a potential sponsor with a view to starting a low cost/no cost football program in association with the Richmond Food Bank that would allow families in need play football and be sent home with food for the week, and we hope that program can be locked down, financed, and kicked off in the coming weeks.
NEW KIT, NEW COLOUR
As parents, we all know white football jerseys can be tough to keep clean, so the outgoing board made the decision to switch to another colour going forward. After much discussion, we have decided the new RFC away colour will switch from white to orange.
When we trialed orange training shirts a few years back, the kids loved them, and they will clash with other team colours far less often, so that’ll be new for the spring.
SPONSORSHIPS/GO AUTO COLUMBIA CHRYSLER CAR LOTTERY
Marius has received confirmation that our car lottery of last year will be repeated, with the support of Go Auto Columbia Chrysler. Last year was a tough one to sell tickets for, being as we were living in a no-contact world, but we expect this year’s lottery to be far easier to execute.
Our ability to move to single season jerseys and keep costs down was helped in no small part by the funds from the lottery, and the assistance of Go Auto Columbia Chrysler in making this happen is invaluable. Marius is actively engaged in talks with two other companies that are interested in joining us as sponsors and we hope we’ll be able to reveal details in the weeks ahead.
One of the programs our TD David Thorburn is hellbent on getting started at RFC, and which he’s had great success with elsewhere, is a system that seeks to help players in older age groups that are nearing graduation to find athletic scholarship opportunities and scouting outreach.
In order to make that happen, a program that includes video capture of games and regular contact with schools and scouts is necessary. Early discussions on this have laid out an ambition to have video facilities at Boyd that will allow us to record games, create highlight reels for players, allow coaches and players to analyze games, and allow relatives who can’t come out to the ground to see their kids play to watch online.
This is an ambition at this point and will take some work to properly execute, but that work is now underway and the hope is to have every player in the current U16/U17 metro programs linked up with school scholarship options by the time they graduate from RFC programming, and for that to be a permanent feature of our club going forward.
David has been a professional player agent and helped literally hundreds of players find pro clubs and schools over his career, so this is much more than a blue sky wish, it’s a process we will see through.
There’s more – lots more – but this has been a long read already so I’ll sign off here with one further commitment to you all, and even to those at RUSC, that this board is committed to every child in our city, whether they play soccer or not, and whether they play at our club or another.