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club feature: cook street united fc

Just as a new president enters the US, smallworld is leaving it (on a virtual basis, anyway).

Cook Street United is probably as close as you can get to the American border, but they’re technically our neighbors to the north, representing Canada’s Vancouver Island.

That hasn’t stopped them from connecting closely with many American clubs on social media, though, and the pretty peacock sported on their badge caught smallworld’s eye!

The trio of directors at Cook Street were kind enough to tell us all about the club and why they exist, and Joel Windels, the manager, transcribed that info.

First, though, about that peacock.

The eponymous Cook Street runs alongside Beacon Hill Park, which also is the location [of] our home ground of Heywood Field. The park is famous for its historical royal visits and is full of beautiful peacocks that roam the gardens.

We wanted something that would stand out from this legacy but still retain that classy ostentation associated with island soccer. The peacock was an obvious candidate to capture that spirit. 

Obvious though it may have been, it’s not a move that many clubs go for, and quite frankly, few can pull it off. Cook Street are well and truly among that few.

Before we learn more about the club’s identity, many reading this are like me in benefitting from a lesson in southwestern British Columbian geography. Thankfully, Joel has us covered.

We’re on Vancouver Island, a place of nearly a million people about 70 miles from the city of Vancouver. The club is based in Cook Street Village, a small ‘alternative’ district just south of downtown Victoria, the capital of BC. There are many established and well-funded clubs on the island, from  CPL team Pacific FC and USL team Victoria Highlanders to large local clubs with thousands of players and beautiful facilities, such as Gorge FC, Prospect Lake and Bays United. Most of our team previously played for one of the 60 or so clubs on the island, including our three directors and several other founding members.

I’ll be honest, that’s a surprise to me. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an island like that stateside with so much soccer history and establishment, barring a more urban example like Long Island in New York. It’s an exciting place to exist as an ambitious lower-league club, and Cook Street don’t lack in ambitions (though their goals are remarkably reasonable as well).

We are extremely ambitious and have countless ideas about what we’d like to try and achieve next. Our short term goals are to win the cup, win the title and get promoted to division 3. We’re currently top of the league, so assuming we stay there we would like to create a reserve team for next season. This will let us grow and sign top new players, while still ensuring we are sticking to the values of the club and saving a space for our entire current roster to stay on regardless of ability.

That Division 3 they’re after is the third tier of the Vancouver Island Soccer League, or VISL, a promotion and relegation-connected group of four adult divisions of soccer as well as various youth setups. Cook Street are six points to the good in Division 4 at the moment, so the Peacocks are sitting pretty. Meanwhile, the club knows it’s not going to get far with goals that end on the pitch.

We’re also in the process of setting up a club shop and hope to reach break even in the next two years. 

In truth, that might be the most difficult goal to reach of all of them, especially this year. But the moment some merch comes out, I’d imagine the lower-league community will be all over it.

As far as seeing Cook Street on the field this year, that aforementioned Division 4 table has been put on hold, despite what Joel describes as a fairly well-contained COVID situation on Vancouver Island. They won’t be back in action until at least April, but ever the hopeful bunch, they’re still looking forward to taking the pitch once more.

We will most certainly follow the guidance from BC Soccer, but you can expect us to be out on the field the moment it is safe to do so. The VISL still expect to complete the second half of the season before the Summer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

We may not be seeing Cook Street United on the playing field in the next couple of months, but you can definitely keep up with the happenings around the club via their social media pages. On Twitter, that would be @CookStreetUtd, and that’s a recommended follow indeed.

Thanks again to Joel Windels and the entire board behind Cook Street United! I’m excited to see where the Canadians are headed next and how many of their ambitions come to fruition!

Until next time, stay weird and support local soccer!

Blessings,

Danny

By danny kotula

danny kotula is an aspiring sports writer and play-by-play commentator. unfortunately, he is not good at either one. his interests include watching soccer and listening to obscure music genres, and those aren’t even his most boring ones. he was born in Tacoma, Washington but has called South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, California, Georgia, and Costa Rica home over the course of his life. he generally knows where to put a comma, which is by far his most redeeming quality. he is writing this in third person as if he were famous enough for someone to write him a biography, but don’t be fooled. he’s not famous.

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