New chairman Danny Peters hails West Cork decision to change to calendar season
NEW West Cork Schoolboys League Chairperson Danny Peters believes the change to the FAI calendar year format will improve the standard of schoolboys’ and schoolgirls’ soccer being played within the region. Ger McCarthy sat down with the new Chairperson and got his thoughts on what lies ahead in 2019 and beyond.
Ger McCarthy (GMC): Congratulations on your appointment as new chairperson of the WCSL. It’s a demanding but hugely rewarding role so why did you accept the nomination?
Danny Peters (DP): I’m stepping down from my day-to-day role with Bantry Bay Rovers as I felt I had taken them as far as I could. I felt becoming WCSL chairperson would be a big challenge but a fresh one and I could now give it more of my time. The sport of soccer if very dear to me and after speaking to my wife about it, she said if this is what you want to do then go ahead. This new role involves every West Cork Schoolboys League club and something I can concentrate fully on rather than just one individual club.
GMC: The term ‘summer soccer’ is repeatedly bandied about but you understand the new FAI Calendar Year format was going to be introduced country-wide in 2020 anyway. West Cork will start their leagues in February 2019 and must be finished by the following November. What are your thoughts on the new format?
DP: From my own point of view, I believe the new format is a great idea. There are good and bad points to it, of course, but bottom line, it will improve the standard of schoolboys and schoolgirls soccer being played in West Cork.
We are going to have better pitches and our players will progress their skills because of having better playing surfaces to train and play on. This new format will be far better than having to deal with muddy pitches during the winter months.
You will have more continuity as well because more games can be played midweek when the evenings. Our leagues have suffered greatly over the past few winters where postponements have meant children did not end up playing any soccer for three of four weeks at a time.
GMC: Ahead of the kick-off in February ’19, will the West Cork Schoolboys League run mini-leagues between this September and December?
DP: This was discussed at our recent AGM and most clubs were in favour of the idea. We will have to wait and see what way the club entry forms look like when they are returned to us. Clubs may elect to wait for the new calendar year or enter teams for the four-month period or maybe both, we don’t know just yet.
I realise we might lose players or even teams over the next 16 to 18 months but sometimes it is better to take a step back before properly moving forward as a league. It is worth noting that the other leagues that have already changed to the calendar year format all lost out at the start but are now reporting more numbers playing soccer than ever before.
GMC: Schoolgirls’ soccer is on the rise all over the country right now and culminating a new U17 National League which will begin in July. You’ve seen the value of women’s football in your own club, Bantry Bay Rovers, so how eager are you for WCSL clubs to respond positively to your committee’s request to restart a schoolgirls’ league?
DP: Starting a new West Cork Schoolgirls’ League is definitely something our committee is anxious to get going again, possibly in September, depending on clubs’ interest. I previously approached the committee to try and get girls soccer back on the agenda.
I think it is very important for any interested girls to have an opportunity to play soccer and represent their local club. There are definitely plenty of good young female soccer players out there in West Cork and this is something we, as a committee, really want to push with the help of our clubs.
We will shortly be in contact with them (our clubs) to see who is willing to put girls’ teams together at whatever age-group they have numbers for. From there, we will then look at forming league, cup and shield competitions if there are enough clubs. Hopefully, if the response is positive, we might start with one age-grade U12, U13 or even U16, set-up a league and build it from there.
Women’s soccer is very important and is on the rise. Just look at the Irish international senior team and how well they have done over the last few years. There are a lot more people sitting up and saying women should be given the same opportunities as men when it comes to play soccer.
GMC: What are you hoping to achieve over the next 18 months?
DP: I hope that all the different sporting bodies can work together and give the children we look after the opportunity to play as many sports as they want. Nobody wants any backlash just because we have to move to a calendar year format.
I hope the move to February-November goes as smoothly as possible. I want as many clubs as possible to field teams during the new calendar year so that we can form proper leagues.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all the West Cork clubs that supported Castlelack’s motion to move a year early in 2019. That was a big statement from our clubs that they are ready for the move.