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Intermission, and some soccer stuff

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 I'm going to be away again, back just in time for WSD's forum on ward boundaries Oct. 28, and for We Day.

Seeing some university volleyball, child the younger and I will watch our Mighty Maples and Teemu, fellow seniors and I have great tickets at the Dome for our resurgent Blue Bombers continuing their miraculous playoff run...and thanks to the Tiger-Cats, for ensuring that the Argos have to play their starters. Lest you despair of my not being a renaissance man, also going to Royal Ontario Museum and to Art Gallery of Ontario, which, thanks for asking, have seniors' rates.

 So all you anonymous trolls will just have to save up your vitriol until I get back. A colleague who reads my blog asked me why people hate me so much, I forgot to get back to him. But I digress.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with some soccer stuff... as if it's not enough that England qualified for the World Cup, using, of all things, young players who can run and play with flair. Did the Three Lions run out of 35-year-olds who play long ball and hope to win on direct free kicks?

Ever onward...

U of W prez Lloyd Axworthy was in a persnickety mood and wanted to talk to me — about, of all things, soccer.

He’d read my recent blog about U of W’s not being allowed to play varsity soccer indoors, and given that his school teaches a lot of courses in conflict resolution and he’s heavily into diplomacy, Axworthy wasn’t very conciliatory towards Canadian Interuniversity Sports.

A year from now, U of W will open RecPlex, a $40-million complex that includes three indoor soccer pitches which open up into a regulation-sized outdoor field, though, of course, it will be indoors.

CIS has decreed that U of W must play its matches outdoors. The Wespersons play at the artificial-turf-and-lights-and-bleachers soccer complex on Waverley.

As a PhD and an all-around smart guy, Axworthy pointed out that he knows darned well that it can get cold, wet, muddy, slushy, miserable, and all-snowy in Winnipeg in a soccer season that runs through October and November.

"Let’s do it indoors," said Axworthy. "We’ve got a FIFA field. Hey guys, let’s do a reality check here."

CIS might want to do an accelerated course on conflict resolution before Axworthy shows up.

Staying with soccer.....

A big hurrah and standing ovation and a happy toot-toot of my whistle to the people who run Anderson Park, and who had the washrooms open on soccer evenings. Anderson should be the template for running a park.

Which segues into....

I’ve solved two Whyte Ridge soccer mysteries.

One came when I had a Saturday morning match at Whyte Ridge School, and the gates were locked on the expansive school parking lot. That forced everyone to park on the street and on adjoining residential bays, where the homeowners suffered the anguish of learning what it’s like to live on a street near UM just beyond the stadium parking forbidden zone. But I digress.

Pembina Trails School Division tells me that all schools that have gates on their parking lots lock them over the weekend, so staff don’t arrive Monday mornings to find all sorts of debris. Seems some people take their cars to school parking lots after dark on the weekend to indulge in activities we --- gasp! --- never learned about watching Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best back in the day.

And speaking of washrooms, a topic that always verges perilously on TMI territorial boundaries, I asked a Whyte Ridge coach how come the community centre washrooms weren’t available on evenings and afternoons when dozens of mini-soccer munchkins were playing, two pitches were occupied with youth players and families, and the basketball court was full of teenagers. He told me the club needs more volunteers to run the building. So, with about six months until next outdoor season, civic-minded Whyte Ridge denizens.....

Meanwhile, an amazing true fact that really happened on a Manitoba soccer field:

Team A:  Yay yay we scored yay

Team B player: Wasn’t that offside?!?!?!

Ref: Nope. That girl way over there on the left kept them onside.

Team B player: Oh. OK. Sorry, ref

And now for something completely different....

One evening these girls from the winning team were lining up to thank me and shake my hand after the match, which is always nice, and several of them addressed me very nicely as Bro. Which is a whole lot better than Oldtimer or Gramps. I figure if I don’t get my hair cut or beard trimmed on a more regular basis, then I’m only one bad hat away from becoming Gabby Hayes.

And having proved the stereotype about my mind wandering at my age.....

I really like matches in which one team has red jerseys, and the parents like to call the players "red" rather than cheering them on by the usually-more-syllables formal team name.

Why would I like that, you may very well ask, surely I’m just as awful a referee regardless of jersey colour?

That’s because, when 15 or 20 people are all yelling at once, a prairie wind is blowing, and I’m 40 yards from them, it’s pretty hard to tell if they’re yelling to the red or at the ref.

Though, of course, I’ve learned to distinguish their target and differentiate whether they’re saying red or ref, based on the context of their admonitions.

To whit:

"That’s awful, that’s really bad, that’s terrible, you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, get in the game... red."

And just as obviously, "Well done! That was great. Way to go out there... ref."

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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