Lakeland College Takes Innovation Award by ‘Gale Force’

A native of London, England, Gale was a professional soccer (football) player, suiting up for Brighton, Crystal Palace, and Fulham from 1959 to 1965. Since then he has been involved with several national teams including New Zealand, Zambia, and Tanzania as coach. He also held the position of Community Development Officer for the Fulham Football Club and Performance Development Director for the English Football Association.

Coming together as a group was the only way to make this goal a reality and when the opportunity struck, Lakeland and their partners did what they had to do to make this happen.

"Between the Meridian Youth Soccer Association, Saskatchewan Soccer Association and Lakeland College we pooled resources to hire a high level soccer employee to meet the needs of all three organizations", said Alan Rogan, Athletic Director at Lakeland College. Mick Gale is a UEFA license coach with 50+ years of experience playing and coaching soccer at a high level. He has also worked with soccer development centres around the world. Without partnering to create a full time position we believe it would not have been possible to attract the quality coach we desired to coach our college soccer programs.

Gale doesn't expect a championship in his first year but be does expect a team that will compete and develop throughout the season.

"The only thing I guarantee them is that if they turn up to the sessions every week, after 20 or 30 weeks you'll be better soccer players, and in a year or two and a couple seasons down the line some very good soccer players," said Gale. "To me, this has to be the centre of the universe now, certainly the centre of the Canadian universe, and that's where the next soccer players are going to come from, and I believe that or I wouldn't be here."

Although Lakeland College took home this year's award, Holland College in Charlottetown, PEI, presented a very strong case for themselves. After only three years as a member of the CCAA, Holland College was host to a very successful PING 2008 CCAA Golf Open Championships and has been the catalyst in developing golf as a varsity sport in the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association (ACAA). These two accomplishments are only the beginning of a very impressive list. Holland College is expected to be a strong candidate for the CCAA Innovation award once again in 2010.

Niagara College also showed promise after adding a men's and women's soccer team to their long list of men's and women's basketball, golf, curling, indoor soccer, and volleyball.

The CCAA would like to acknowledge all the candidates for their quality submissions and congratulate Lakeland College as winners of the 2009 CCAA Innovation Award.

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The Canadian Colleges Athletic Association is a national sport organization that enriches the lives of student-athletes through intercollegiate competition.