In addition to boasting the Div. 1 and Div. 2 league champions and the cup-winner at the masters level, Cowichan Valley soccer also produced several individual award winners when the Vancouver Island Soccer League handed out the hardware on April 7.
Leading the way was Cowichan LMG head coach Glen Martin, who received the President’s Trophy, which goes to the most dedicated individual, player, team official, team or club in the VISL.
In presenting the award to Martin, VISL president Vince Greco acknowledged that dealing with Martin isn’t always easy, but that Martin has definitely earned the respect of the soccer community.
“A lot of times you don’t like your opposition or that guy – and this guy would potentially fit in that category,” Greco said. “I can also guarantee that the people this guy is involved with think the world of him. If people are able to separate the personal dealing with him and focus in on what he has done, they might see that too.
“I know it may have been hard for me to recognize that separation as we have butted heads on occasions over the years, but once you can do so, you realize how much of a difference an individual makes not only in the VISL but in the community as well.”
Martin has guided Cowichan LMG to the last three Garrison Cups as Div. 1 league champs, and to seven Jackson Cup tournament finals in the last eight years, winning four times.
Martin started coaching at the age of 19 when he took the reins of his brother’s U18 team, then started coaching his son’s team when his son was five, and continued all the way through minor soccer, winning Island and provincial championships at the U16 and U18 levels. He started coaching in the VISL in 2005 and has led his team to tremendous success, making it to well over 1,000 games and training sessions in that time, not missing one, despite two heart attacks and a bout of pneumonia.
“Love him, hate him, or love to hate him, he is a huge part of the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association,” Greco said. “He has a huge heart and has done a lot of good for the overall game in Cowichan and the VISL.”
Martin appreciated the award, although his main concern is winning championships with his team — and the provincial tournament is just around the corner.
“It really feels good to be recognized,” he said. “I don’t do it for awards for myself Hopefully I do it for trophies for the team.”
LMG striker Paddy Nelson received a pair of awards at the banquet as the Div. 1 leading scorer and the top goal-producer in the entire VISL. Nelson scored 26 goals in 18 games this season, the most in league play by any player in Cowichan history.
“What can you say?” Greco said. “He could be the MVP every year. He has been a dominating force in Div 1. Besides winning the MVP three times, which only two other people have done, he has been on the goal-scoring trophy several times in the past six years. He has been on the overall League Golden Boot two times now — the first person to do so. Add in that he is a classy guy and humble — it is a treat to see him do well.”
Other individual awards won by Cowichan players included Stu Barker claiming the Alex Hylan Trophy as Tony Grover Cup MVP, Neall Rowlings taking home the Wilf Sadler Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and leadership, and Cowichan United goalkeeper being named Div. 2 MVP.