A new push has risen up to return Red Deer to the men’s division of the Alberta Major Soccer League.
Eight years after the Renegades were relegated following an 0-17-1 campaign and subsequently folded, they are back in action. However, they have a long road ahead of them to get back into the province’s top soccer league.
Right now they are playing exhibition and tournament games with the hopes of eventually challenging for the right to return to the AMSL.
On Saturday, despite playing shorthanded to the point head coach Ian Moody took the field, they beat an academy team out of Arizona 7-4 at Edgar Athletic Park.
The return of the club is not about pride or even wanting to play at the highest level, it’s about the development and growth of the game in the city.
“It’s important for youth soccer in Red Deer and it’s important for the college too,” said team manager Chris Davies. “Once you’re done playing U18 then you have to travel outside of Red Deer to go and find a good place to play. It’s been a difficult transition over the last few years because once U16 hits, kids know at U18 there’s nowhere else to go play other than with (RDC head coach) Steve (Fullarton) at the college.”
Right now the club has about 20 players coming out for training on a regular basis.
The make up is split from a few different sources including the Red Deer College Kings men’s soccer team, graduates of the tier II indoor provincial championship team and others played the indoor season with the Red Deer Rovers which completed their first season in the Calgary indoor league this past winter.
Davies is well aware of what went wrong the last time. He was a veteran of the Renegades, including being a member of that 2008 team. He is hoping they can correct what went wrong last time and build a solid foundation for a healthy club.
“We’re still in the very early stages of transitioning this team into a challenging team,” said Davies. “It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of commitment from a lot of people to make this happen.”
This year the club is playing strictly exhibition games and in tournaments. They plan to take part in the premier league provincials Sept. 4-7 in Calgary. Then next September the goal is to challenge whoever the last place team in the AMSL is for a spot in the eight-team league.
The two teams will then have a two-game series for the spot.
Right now setting up the foundation of the club is the most important part for Davis, promising an aggressive style of play that forces the action.
“It’s got to come from the top, from the coaches and the players will buy in,” said Davies. “It’s a change of culture in what everyone thinks. Has it been to this stage before and failed? Yes it has, many times, but everybody has to buy in and see the long term project is not the end of this year but towards the end of next year if guys can buy into a process of a situational team, then it will work. Everyone is hopeful.”