It isn't normally the practice of Canadian Soccer News to print letters or comments that are sent to us. But given that much of the Alberta conversation here, and on the Voyageurs board, has been carried out anonymously or with a screen name, it is certainly worthy of attention when someone is willing to stand up, put their name on record and say what they have to say.
This letter from Shaun Lowther doesn't come from someone in either camp but from the quiet majority who makes up the ASA membership - a membership, who we are hearing, have become increasingly tired of the political infighting and now just want to get back to growing the game in Alberta.
And if the name Lowther sounds familiar to you that's because Shaun carries a bit of distinction with him - he was a part of the 1984 Canadian Olympic team that made the quarterfinals and was a member of our national team between 1983-1985.
Here is the letter printed in its entirety.
Canadian Soccer News
Editor in Chief
Dear Mr. Knight,
I would like to thank-you for getting involved in reporting on this absolutely horrendous situation in Alberta. I would like to put my name on the record and not hide behind the unregistered username. My name is Shaun Lowther and I have been involved in the sport for many, many years as first a professional player, coach and now General Manager of one of the larger clubs in Calgary, Alberta. I was very fortunate to have played for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the old NASL and to represent Canada in the heyday of Canadian soccer. I played in several games in the 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign as well as in most of the games in the 1984 Olympic qualifying campaign. I was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame last year as a member of the 1986 World Cup team. I am not trying to advertise my credentials but rather give a little background on my experience and also to qualify that I am right in the heart of this dispute in Alberta.
Like you I am completely in favour of Governance reform within not only the CSA but also within Provincial and District Associations. I truly believe that the dispute in Alberta is so entrenched now that the only possible way that the ASA can move forward is by absolutely starting from scratch and get rid of both the Charpentier and Billings groups. We need to start fresh and get people on to the ASA board that are totally removed from either party. These same people must not be representatives on District and/or the CSA boards. I find it truly amazing that people believe they can not have a conflict of interest when representing two, three or sometimes four different governing bodies. If we look at this dispute it seems that both parties have dirty laundry and they should all step aside.
I would suggest that if the two warring factions truly do have the best interests of the game at heart they will all voluntarily step aside and let the membership decide who the ASA board of directors will be. I know I am probably being naive but it is what most people I have spoken to who are not involved with either group would like to see happen.
There are enough quality people here in Alberta who have been involved at high levels of play and have now moved on to different careers that would be of tremendous benefit to the Association. All it takes is to ask these people to get involved and to give back to move the association to new levels. A lot of these former players or coaches would not be in the game to advance there political standing in soccer so that they would be able to take trips, or receive blazers etc as they would have "been there done that" as players and or coaches. I know that not all volunteer board members are the same in this regard but my past experience with some of them as led me to the conclusion that they are using their district or provincial boards as stepping stones to get to the promised land of the CSA or beyond.
If there was a real, genuine effort by the district associations to allow an independent ASA "Board of Directors" to empower staff to run the association I have no doubt in my mind that we (Alberta) would be able to compete with Ontario, Quebec and BC in respect to player, coach and referee development. We already have many clubs that compete with other clubs throughout the country. We now need to band together in this difficult time to move our association forward and start to produce players that can play professionally and for our National teams. As a former National team member I am ashamed at the low ranking that our Mens team has within CONCACAF and FIFA. It is easy to point the blame at the CSA but we are all accountable for the predicament we find ourselves in.
Anyway I have ranted on long enough so once again thank-you for bringing this dispute the attention it deserves nationally and i do not wish any of this on any of the other Provinces as it has been absolutely "shocking" for the Alberta soccer community. Keep up the good work!
Yours in Soccer