The fields at Myrtle Philip Community School were a hive of activity on Monday night (June 10) for the opening games of the Whistler Adult Soccer League.
Drop-in games have already been going for a month and will continue every Thursday night until the end of August, but eight squads of 25 players each are now registered for the season. With extra players joining drop-in games, the total membership of the adult league is around 250 people. Games are also co-ed with a minimum of two females on the field at any one time.
"We see a lot of (new people) during the World Cup years," said league commissioner Mark Sedgwick.
"We could probably fill more than eight teams, but we have two fields and that's already busy with two nights a week for games and one night a week for drop-ins.
We're (a team of) three volunteers - for three nights a week, it's already a lot."
The adult league has been organizing community soccer games for more than 15 years and has a strong alignment with the Whistler Youth Soccer Club. All assistant referees and linesmen are recruits from the youth club, and the young officials also have the chance to play with the adults if they are looking for more time on the field.
"We actually find that a lot of the really keen youth players are coming out to drop-in," said Sedgwick. "They're not quite old enough to play in the adult league yet, but it gives them somewhere to go when they're done with the youth systems and connect them with the Squamish and Vancouver leagues."
The Fairmont team enters the campaign as defending champions of the league, which will be tiered into two pools midway through the season after an initial slate of round-robin games.
Like Whistler itself, the adult league is a literal melting pot of cultures with players from all over the world. Workers from countries where soccer is the national sport are quick to find the league here in the resort.
"The international influence with all the seasonal workers contributes a lot," said Peter Gorski, who has been a member of the league for the last five years.
A drop-in match the previous week had a side of Canadians, Europeans and Austral-Asians against a team from Spain, Mexico and a host of South American nations.
"I've been playing soccer since I was a kid, it's a great way to keep fit," said Gorski. "There's people of all different seriousness levels here and everyone seems to get along pretty well. It's a great league."
While all teams treat the game seriously, there is a strict zero-tolerance of aggressive contact and conduct. Challenges for ball possession are monitored closely by the referees to avoid unnecessary injuries.
"Whistler is a highly athletic community and with that breeds competitiveness," said Sedgwick.
"It's a challenge but we try to continually maintain the principles of the league - that we're here to create a safe and friendly environment for everyone. A lot of that is not just physical but verbal."