Gerry Kirby & Scott Betts
Reflecting on the Past and Present
of NLSA Jubilee Competition
After taking in the Jubilee Trophy game on Wednesday, July 14 , when the Kirby team were playing Holy Cross with 1st place on the line, I sat back and reflected, how far the NLSA Jubilee teams have come over the past decade. While there is still room for improvement we have definitely come a long..... long ways the last ten years. Personally, I feel today's NLSA Jubilee competitiveness can be contributed to Gerry Kirby and Scott Betts. Gerry who is a very successful businessman, has always had a keen interest in soccer, wanted to get involved in the sport. And yes, when he put his game plan in action he did this in fine fashion which originally caused quite the stir around the NLSA soccer fraternity. However, he backed it up by putting his money where his mouth is. He started off with a huge bang, he first financed the team by sponsored it and he then went out and recruited head coach Scott Betts. Scott was a very technically sound individual who had a solid background in coaching. He had coached at the Challenge Cup level, was a Provincial Champion in 1993 and was the head coach at MUN, while coaching their men's squad. Next Kirby and Betts did some nasty player recruitment.
First of all, I think it was safe to say they recruited the best female players in the province. The Kirby team started with star player Laura Breen. Laura at the time was dynamic, you could say she was dynamite. I would have to say that Laura Breen would go on to be the best female ever to don a pair of soccer boots in this province.
The club followed up with luring Malorie Harris into their fold. Harris was the kid with great goal-scoring ability. She would go on to be the best female goalscorer the province has ever produced. She twice was the recipient of the National Golden Boot Award.Next came the leadership and controversial Nicole Moores. Nicole is what every good team needs, she's a leader. Nicole Moores, you can love or hate her, but I feel she has done more for the growth and development of ladies soccer in this province than any other lady. Yes, she may be a little controversial but sometimes we need controversy rather than everyone reading from the same scrip and hoping to make further progress. Well, the critics of this new club approach were livid. They were ready to dismantle both Betts and Kirby.... starting with Kirby, while Betts friends were dropping off by the bucket loads. However, right from the beginning I made it know to both individuals that I supported their new venture. As a province I knew we had to make changes, I just knew we must do something in order to compete at the Nationals. Since 1993, when I first coached the St. Lawrence Laurentians to victoryand went to the Nationals, I have been present at every National Challenge Cup / Jubilee Trophy National Championships. During this time, I can tell you, I seen some NLSA Jubilee Representatives getting beat by some humiliating scores. At that time most of those one sided loses to the NLSA reps really hurt me. Furthermore, when I got into broadcasting, some 15 years ago, the hurt extended even deeper especially when my province was on the low end of the score-sheet and you are the person who is doing the color for the National Radio Broadcasts.
However, it appears that those lean years of NLSA ladies soccer are over at the Senior National Level and I should include Memorial University. MUN won the AUAA two years ago and I must tip my hat to coach, Walt Mavin and the players for this great accomplishment... Well Done folks! Since Kirby initially came on stream in 2007, the league and the competition has grown. During this time Kirby themselves has had several player changes and Coach Betts has moved on and the team is now coached by Dragan Microvic. The three team league now consists of; Kirby , Holy Cross and Feildians. There is no doubt that Kirby and Holy Cross are the two top favorites. Feildians are an improving squad but still have a ways to go. Holy Cross are now at a point where they are ready to challenge Kirby for the NLSA Championship. They are a new club with hungry aspirations. They want nothing less than a provincial championship. I like the fact that both of these two teams don't have a lot of likeness for each other. That is how good rivalries are created. Both clubs play very physical, very determined and are very well coached by coaches who like to win. This combination should call for a very interesting 2016 play-offs.