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Delta throwback: The girls want to play

Girl’s soccer was on the move in Delta in the early 1970s.
Robyn McGraw of Beatty Floors, one of the two female Ladner teams, moving the ball with players from Diewert Construction taking chase.

Let’s head back to March 1974 when local residents wanted to ensure girls also had a chance to participate in the game of soccer.

An article by Delta Optimist sports editor Jack Keating noted the public had just become aware of girl’s growing involvement in soccer in the wake of a recent court action at the time in which a Powell River mother sought legal means to allow her daughter to play in a boy’s league. The girl was in question had been ruled ineligible because of her sex by the BC Juvenile Soccer Association.

There were no records of girls trying to play in Delta boy’s leagues at the time, but a local resident began to organize soccer for girls-only.

“Nobody in girl’s soccer is out to gate crash somebody else’s sport (boys’ soccer),” said Frances Raderecht, organizer.

“I have a daughter that’s been playing soccer at Ladner Elementary. A lot of the girls wanted to continue to play but there was no one to organize or coach the girls,” she said.

Raderecht volunteered to help the girls and when she told Stan Smith, a local soccer booster, her problem, he agreed to coach any girls she could come up with.

Girl’s soccer began the previous fall and, by the spring of 1974, there were two young girl’s (10-to-13) teams playing in Ladner. Others also volunteered their time to help.

About 30 girls began showing up regularly for practice sessions each Saturday at Cromie Park.

Smith, who had coached and managed juvenile boy’s soccer, said he was enthused about the female involvement and their very high level of play.

He also noted that girls and women in Europe had been playing for years.

Plans were also underway for Tsawwassen teams for the following year.

Al Stekelenburg, the newly-elected president of the Tsawwassen (boy’s) Soccer Club, was already holding registration for girls 14-to-16 in the hope of organizing girl’s play. He said almost 50 girls had already shown interest.