By Mark McKelvie
The Hawks soccer teams have been forced to move all their home games to the nearby Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan after the men’s and women’s teams had played only one game each at the Humber campus’ Valley Field.
“It was fairly apparent to us at the end of August our field was substandard,” said Ray Chateau, Humber’s Athletic Director. “After the first game against Mohawk we had a couple of injuries and we just realized you couldn’t play a competitive game on the field.”
One would imagine the field should have been in top shape for the start of the collegiate season, but the field isn’t owned by Humber and is in constant use by the City of Toronto.
“It’s a city field and the city and their maintenance staff have been great and they work fantastic with us,” said Chateau. “In terms of rebuilding the field, we are the ones who use it and it’s really a matter of working through the logistics.”
Hawks goalkeeper Jay Garro said the field wasn’t even safe for warming up on and was an obstacle during the only game they were able to play.
“It’s a nightmare for a goalkeeper because you never know what’s going to happen when the ball hits the ground,” said Garro. “There are parts of the field where the grass is longer so the ball doesn’t move much and then there are other holes and bumps everywhere.”
The poor playing surface led to many safety concerns and Chateau said that safety is the reason for moving the games.
Players getting injured
Garro said he witnessed players get injured just by warming up.
“It’s very easy to sprain an ankle, I’ve seen guys go down just simply jogging,” Garro said. “If you walk out of there without something hurting you are lucky.”
The move to the Soccer Centre will hurt fan support at the games.
“It moves the fans and you can’t just walk down into the valley and the fields and watch the games,” said Chateau.
The Soccer Centre in the past has hosted Humber games later in the season due to poor weather conditions and Garro said he and his teammates still believe they have home field advantage at the indoor facility.
“There are times where the field gets so bad we don’t want to play at home unless it’s the Soccer Centre,” said Garro. “It makes it easier for us to play due to moving to a better surface.”
Not playing on campus hurts fan support, but Garro says the fan support hasn’t been that great no matter where they play.
“Even when we had games on campus we really had very little support, we should be doing more to get people out to the games in my opinion.”
The rugby team will continue to use the Valley Fields at Humber according to Chateau.
Plans are in the works to improve the fields but Chateau says it is a difficult process due to the constraints from the city and arboretum that houses the field.
“Hopefully we will have proper conditions for the teams next year.”