Langley Athletic FC is on a one-year hiatus from the Pacific Coast Soccer League.
LAFC, which includes a strong contingent of Trinity Western University Spartans, won't be in the PCSL's Premier Men Division this season as it waits for construction on its home field at McLeod Stadium to be completed.
"We have no field," team president and owner Ewen Dobbie said. "With the temporary closure of the stadium we have no real home park that has the kind of professional environment we want to create."
Construction started on March 4, and the project is scheduled for completion the first week of June.
The main element is the replacement of MAP's oval synthetic turf, which after 10 years has reached the end of its eight-year life span. At the same time workers are doing further drainage improvements to the field base as part of the project, while safety fencing is being erected between the track and the field area to keep spectators away from the playing surface.
Langley Township council approved the project in 2012.
The Township applied for and received community infrastructure improvement funding from the federal government to the tune of $250,000 towards the $1 million project.
Langley Athletic will train into the summer but won't be part of the PCSL this season.
In February 2012, LAFC was accepted into the PCSL, which moved the club from a U20 team to an open men's squad.
The B.C.-based PCSL is an inter-city, cross-border league with a season that runs typically from May to August.
Member clubs are drawn from across the Pacific Northwest in cities from the B.C. Interior, Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, through Washington State, and Oregon at times.
During the 2012 campaign, LAFC finished with a 5-6-5 mark.
Dobbie said the PCSL has been very understanding of the move.
"They have given us a furlough for the year," he said.
It just so happens, he added, the refurbishment of MAP's turf field lines up exactly with the start of LAFC's season.
"We tried to work something out with the Surrey Soccer Association but it was too short notice," he said. "We accept it as a necessary reality. We're happy it's getting done. We want to make it [McLeod Stadium] our home field and work towards the environment we were building last year."
LAFC plans on playing a friendly game, maybe more, against Bellingham United this year, "just not in a league format," Dobbie said.
LAFC is just one of MAP's many user groups and as a result, doesn't have an overly strong voice, Dobbie noted.
"We don't have the field booked a year in advance," he said. "Every year, it's been a challenge for us to get fields. Don't get me wrong, the Township has been great but it's difficult to squeeze smaller user groups like us between larger user groups."
Ultimately, Dobbie said, LAFC would like to secure a long-term lease to get space and preferred times at McLeod Stadium.
LAFC head coach Pat Rohla said the vision of the club is to "not to do anything halfway."
"There's a lot of things_ that the owner [Ewen Dobbie] wanted to make sure happens," Rohla said. "If he puts his hand on something, he wants it be done the right way."
Rohla said taking a year off isn't a bad thing, if the end result is a nicer venue.
"We're really starting to gain some traction after last year," he added, "but unfortunately, if you don't own your facility, you are at the mercy of other groups, which is okay, too."
LAFC is building a geographical rivalry with nearby Bellingham United and Rohla believes that will continue once the club resumes play in 2014.
"We have a good product and have a good venue, and we want to build into that," he said.
@ Copyright 2013