The Red Deer Renegades Men’s Soccer team has kicked off their season with three wins and two ties so far, with two ties over the weekend against Fort McMurray and Edmonton.
The first game of the pair took place last Saturday seeing a 3-3 tie against Fort McMurray in an extremely physical game that saw Red Deer scoring a number of goals from foul shots.
The following day the Renegades took to the pitch once more to face Edmonton finishing with another 3-3 tie and seeing one again another physical game.
However the wins and ties are of little value on paper as the team is currently without a league to play in. Coach Ian Moody said this year is all about developing the team to a level of play to challenge for a spot in the Alberta Men’s Major Soccer League next season.
The push to return to the major leagues comes after eight years of absence following an 0-17-1 season that left them folded from the league.
Moody said he is optimistic about the Renegades’ return to Alberta’s top soccer league and hopes to be able to push his team to the level of play required.
The season began with an open tryout which drew players from as far away as Ottawa and close to home as Red Deer’s own U-18 team from which Moody scored five young players.
“They really like playing with us,” said Moody of the underage players. “They have all come from Red Deer’s soccer system and are all incredible players.
“It’s been interesting for them to play with us because it has been more physical game play and is significantly faster game play as well, but they love it and it’s only going to increase their skills.”
Prior to this year, players graduating from the U-18 soccer team in Red Deer would have no where other than Steve Fullarton’s team at Red Deer College to play on, with spots on the team increasingly difficult to obtain as the competition is provincial and fierce.
However for the players currently playing on the RDC team, the return of a AMSL team in Red Deer would also mean they have the option to tryout for another team after their time playing in post-secondary leagues.
The push to return the Renegades to a league, and not just any league – the province’s highest level of play – means players graduating from the U-18 team may continue into the Renegades’ program and will not longer have to travel to keep playing after graduation.
Moody is confident his team will be ready to challenge the last place team in the league next September, with the team already fairing well in the exhibition games and tournaments they’ve played in so far.
This weekend the team will head to Edmonton to play in a premier tournament amongst some of the province’s best teams from Edmonton and Calgary.
“It’s going to be good for Red Deer for us to return to the majors,” said Moody. “Soccer is a sport everyone can play – all you need is a pair of shoes and a ball.
“Anything we can do to further the sport in the City is a win for us.”