The Moose Jaw Soccer Association (MJSA) returned to the pitch last week after postponing part of their season due to financial difficulties.
The financial difficulties for the MJSA dated back to pre-COVID and during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, there was a substantial amount of bills that were unpaid. A membership meeting was held in August of 2021 as those unpaid bills came to a head.
MJSA chairperson Dannielle Donnelly said all outstanding payments were made. However, it depleted the soccer association’s reserves, and the reserves became less and less because, according to Donnelly, there was not membership support for sponsorships or fundraising.
The ball started rolling when the MJSA fell to the point where just over $20,000 in fees were overdue by members for this season alone.
A couple of city staff reached out saying they would be willing to help the soccer association finish out the season and get back on track, according to Donnelly, but another member of the association rejected the idea.
The MJSA had to postpone its season as the board worked closely with the Saskatchewan Soccer Association to get back on the field.
"I don't think anyone is more upset than we were as the ones who have been running Moose Jaw Soccer. I can honestly say every board member that is on there has been impacted in the same way as anyone of our parents,” Donnelly said.
“I am a parent myself. I have three boys in our programs, I also play on the adult team, and we have board members on the adult team, so it wasn't just those parents affected, it was us as well."
During the postponement, Donnelly said they were communicating as best they could through email and Facebook.
“There are various forms that it was going through, and our phone is always operational throughout the day, so anyone is free to call to find out what is going on,” Donnelly said.
She added that there were a number of rumours that were circulating on social media that weren’t true.
“If you want to know what is going on with Moose Jaw Soccer, ask a board member. Don’t go post on Facebook, don’t go and get all of your information off of other places outside of our Facebook page,” Donnelly said.
The soccer association has also undergone a number of changes moving forward in order to stay on budget.
The board now has a treasurer with a financial background and, with help from the Saskatchewan Soccer Association, will make sure the MJSA stays on track and within budget. Financial controls have also been put in place to make sure they stay on track.
This was also the first year that Moose Jaw Soccer was allowing payment arrangements for fees. Donnelly said that was abused and will no longer be an option. Payment arrangements will only be allowed now with post-dated cheques or credit card authorizations so that the payments are readily available.
The MJSA decreased its expenses by giving back several hours to the Yara Centre by combining groups together on the field. This means that members still be getting the same amount of field time, but will be sharing the field with other age groups.
One of the more significant changes is that the MJSA soccer nets have been removed from the Yara Centre.
"It's heartbreaking for us to walk in and not only see the empty fields but we have many, many, many players who go there and pay drop-in rates to the Yara Centre and they utilize our nets,” Donnelly said.
“That is something the Moose Jaw Soccer never had an issue with because it was providing to the public and it was providing to our community and we want everyone who can enjoy soccer to enjoy soccer. But, unfortunately, the same courtesy is not being given back to us on certain things."
She added that the soccer association does have nets in place that they can use during their field time. She said if that arrangement doesn’t work to the membership, the board will look at bringing back the old MJSA-owned nets, but they will not be for the public’s use.
Finally, now that they are back on the field, MJSA is looking to ramp up fundraising efforts. They are having a bottle drive through SARCAN’s Drop and Go using “Moose Jaw Soccer” or using the MJSA phone number 306-693-1757.
However, Donnelly said the MJSA can’t be viable is the older membership and parents don’t volunteer for fundraisers.
“As a non-profit, we need our volunteer involvement. We need our parents, we need our older players, we need all of them to step up and actually get involved,” she said.
You can find the latest about the Moose Jaw Soccer Association on their Facebook page.