The Juan de Fuca Soccer Association renamed it’s annual tournament the Sandy Stewart Memorial mini festival.
Stewart passed away after a battle with cancer in January and naming the tournament after him was something that just fit, JDF Youth Rep, Kevin Allen said.
JDF President Dave Johnson said he was so passionate about looking after the youth, it wasn’t always about winning, it was about teaching and having fun.
Stewart got involved in soccer when his two sons played and stayed with the sport since, wanting children to maintain their passion for soccer as a lifelong sport, Angus said.
Stewart did more than coach with JDF, he ran referee training courses, mentored referees, was involved in scholarship committees, organized bingo events, worked at dances, and was a major contributor to writing the constitution the club has been using since the 80s.
Stewart’s son, Angus, coaches for JDF and his grandchildren play in the club too.
Stewart worked in the Sooke School District for 34 years. He was a vice principal at Dunsmuir, and then became a principal at Journey, and he coached at both schools. Stewart believed that for some kids, sport was the only thing that kept them in school, so he wanted to give as much opportunity to children as possible and it wouldn’t have mattered what sport or event, Stewart would have helped, Angus said.
Angus remembers driving around with his dad before practice and picking up kids who were unable to get rides to the field. He hoped it would connect the children to their community and encourage them to give back to their communities when they were older.
“It’s great for my family to have his name attached to this and there’ll be a lot more generations [to come],” Angus said.
Angus has coached 17 seasons of kids, before and after his children were born. He is also on the board with the club and thinks community involvement is just as important as his dad did.
There were 853 participants ages 3 to 10 in this year’s Sandy Stewart mini festival. When the club started in the early ‘80s, there were 350 kids participating in JDF, and now there are about 1,500 kids, Johnson said.