Since forming the organization over three decades ago, Frank Wouterlood has volunteered countless hours towards the Comox Valley Masters Soccer club.
The retired teacher started the organization in 1982. It started as a club for players 30 years and older but has morphed into a three-team organization for those on the far side of 35, 45 and 55.
As club president, Wouterlood also plays for the 55 squad, which he manages. He also organizes an annual memorial game, which he precedes with a few words and a moment of silence in honour of deceased club members.
Despite undergoing a knee replacement a few years back, Wouterlood rehabbed himself to the point where he could again play the game he loves. This past summer, he hooked up with a Vancouver squad which won the 70-plus division at the U.S. Adult Soccer Association Veterans Cup in Virginia Beach, Va.
“That was one of the highlights for me,” said Wouterlood, who learned the fundamentals of soccer while growing up in The Hague, Netherlands. He and other boys would play the game with a tennis ball on the street.
At 13 he came to Canada with his family, spent 10 days in Halifax, took a train to Vancouver and wound up in Victoria, where a relative lived.
During his years in Victoria, Wouterlood was part of five teams that won the Jackson Cup league championship for the Island. One year, he was to be married on the same day as the cup final. His club — Vic West — offered to pay the wedding costs and to hold the ceremony at half-time, but it was not to be. He didn’t suit up for that game.
Another memorable occasion occurred while playing with Oak Bay in the ‘60s. His squad was playing an exhibition game against the Vancouver Royals, a professional team coached by former Hungarian soccer legend Ferenc Puskas. Enraged at the scoreless draw at half-time, an overweight Puskas took to the field in the second half — and promptly took matters into his own hands. He scored once and assisted on three goals.
“He just changed that game.”
Wouterlood’s teaching career was spent in the Comox Valley. He worked at Cumberland Elementary, Comox Elementary, Robb Road (when it was a junior high school) and at Cape Lazo School. Over the years, he figures he has coached about 100 sports teams.
Besides playing soccer twice a week, Wouterlood also plays badminton twice a week with the Courtenay Badminton Club, which he helps co-ordinate.
“It complements soccer,” he said.