Efforts are underway to salvage Vernon’s primary soccer fields.
The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted Thursday to spend up to $25,000 on immediate capital and operating work needed to improve the quality of the Marshall Field soccer fields. A long-term plan for maintenance will also be created.
“There has to be specific attention to get it moving in the right direction,” said director Doug Dirk.
The action was taken after a presentation from the Vernon Soccer Association.
“They are dangerous to play on,” said Darrell Buckham, VSA fields and facilities director, of the fields.
Rain has resulted in holes developing on some the fields while pools of water have also formed.
“We’ve had bones broken and ankles snapped,” said Buckham, adding that the five fields have been deteriorating for about four to six years.
VSA has 2,200 youth and 1,500 adult players using the fields annually, and Marshall Field is also home to school soccer games, the Okanagan Whitecaps youth soccer program and the regional youth high performance league.
There is such a concern about field conditions, that some groups have moved their activities to Kelowna.
“Elite athletes can’t suffer injury because it jeopardizes scholarships or worse,” said Buckham.
The Oldtimer’s May tournament attracts more than 55 teams annually.
“Players coming to Vernon spend tourism money only to be expected to play on hazardous fields,” said Buckham.
“A field petition was circulated at the tournament and includes very negative comments regarding fields.”
VSA is offering to work with GVAC and the City of Vernon, the maintenance contractor, to determine what upgrades are needed. The non-profit society has also indicated that it will provide funding.
“We need a basic maintenance plan that is relevant. It would help them get up to a playing standard,” said Buckham.
Among the items to be considered are fertilizing, aeration and irrigation scheduling. Some fields may have to be taken out of play so conditions can be improved.
“I’ve seen the decline,” said Bob Fleming, GVAC director, a landscaper and a soccer enthusiast.
“They can be fine again and rest and rehabilitation is part of it.”