The Hamilton Sparta Soccer Club was honoured with a Meritorious Service Award (Club) by the Ontario Soccer Association at its annual Inner Circle Awards on April 25, 2015.
The year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Hamilton Sparta Sports Club. In 1965, a senior mens team left the East Hamilton organization and incorporated as a new club, Hamilton Sparta, under the direction of founder and first president, Dennis Zimmer, a staunch supporter of Sparta Prague. He brought on board one of Ontario’s great builders of the game, Robert Magee, who administered the club over the next 3 decades. Supported by the leadership of such directors as John Bremner, Harry Poree, Paul Gesse, Dave Edgcumbe and John Valvasori, the club developed over the years to become one of the most successful clubs in the district, if not the province.
In a community well-served by many youth clubs who offered popular house league programs, Sparta’s early specialty involved fielding rep teams only to represent the district in various youth leagues. This remained its focus over the years, resulting in several provincial championships, and success in league play and tournaments, both provincially and internationally. Many Sparta graduates have proceeded to NCAA and CIS careers, some have competed professionally in Canada and abroad, and many have entered the coaching ranks. Many also continue to wear Sparta colours as adults while competing in the Ontario Soccer League, Hamilton’s Premier Soccer League, the OWSL and the WWISL leagues. Sparta has 6 youth teams in the newly formed Golden Horseshoe Regional Soccer League, and 5 other youth teams in the H&DMJSL, our district league.
The greatest change in the club began 8 years ago when it began its journey into mini-soccer. This grass-roots developmental program, based on LTPD principles, has become the largest and most successful component in the organization. The summer and winter academies, using a game-based curriculum, focusing on skills and enjoyment, organized by its TD and supervised by well-qualified coaches, has grown exponentially. With 20 grass-roots teams playing developmental soccer, the future looks good. Club enrolment has doubled over the last 5 years, counter to provincial trends.
One of the primary reasons for its success has been the selection and development of knowledgeable and committed coaches. The club strongly supports their professional development in attaining licences, in attending coaching conferences and seminars, through in-club opportunities, and through a mentorship program with McMaster men’s soccer, with whom they have an effective partnership.
Sparta also has a knowledgeable and experienced working executive who administer all club functions on a volunteer basis, keeping its high level programs very affordable. Many also serve on the executives of leagues and other organizations, ensuring that the game of soccer is promoted and administered efficiently in this district and beyond. Their TD is highly qualified and extremely motivated, involved in every aspect of its operations and spear-heading every program. He shares his expertise as an OSA Learning Facilitator.
Hamilton Sparta was awarded this year with OSA Club Excellence Gold Certification, in recognition of its commitment to excellence in all of their endeavours. The club continues to strive to maximize player participation, to offer high quality programming, to be sustainable, to offer a developmental and talented pathway for all interested players from toddlers to old-timers, to comply with LTPD principles, and to contribute to building a healthy community in the years to come…hopefully another 50!