Meet the Southeast Strikers


The Southeast Strikers, our region’s newest soccer team, has just begun their first season playing in the Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association Indoor League. They are the first Niverville-based indoor soccer team to play in the league. While most of the players hail from Niverville, a few also come from Ste. Agathe, St. Malo, and Île-des-Chênes.

The team is the brainchild of locals Brian Harder and Ernie Christ. Brian’s son Marcus and Ernie’s son Ethan, along with another Niverville player Ryan Anderson, played in the league last year for Winnipeg Southeast United. This year, they decided to kickstart their own team.

“We started planning and making calls and sending emails and eventually came up with 12 kids,” explains Harder. “We had about eight or nine kids from our outdoor team. It was just a matter of adding three or four more. We have two 12-year-olds and the rest are 13 and 14.” 

Christ is the team’s head coach while Harder has taken on the role of manager and assistant coach. Stephen Cornish also serves as an assistant.

As always when the right kind of parents are involved, the kids come first. For Christ, Harder, and Cornish, this first season is about building something the kids can get excited about. It’s not necessarily about wins and losses. 

“Only five of our 12 players have played indoor before,” Harder says. “This year we want to get the experience so it can keep going year after year.”

Harder and Christ chose to start by placing the team in the league’s Recreational division, to create a fun experience for the kids. Although the games are still competitive, it’s not quite as intense as the Winnipeg Soccer Association’s Premiere and Developmental divisions.

Thus far, although it’s early in the season, the team has been competitive in every game they’ve played.

The team practices once a week at the Niverville Elementary School and plays its game on Sundays at Winnipeg’s indoor soccer complex. The season started in early October and runs through March. The indoor game is played on a field one quarter the size of a regular soccer pitch and is five-on-five, plus goalies.

“It’s a fast game,” says Harder. “Kids get tired quick. You need conditioned guys.”

Harder has learned that it’s not easy starting a soccer side from scratch. Since they’re a rural team, they had to get permission from the Manitoba Soccer Association to play in Winnipeg. Then they had to book practice times with the school division, order jerseys, collect fees, and put in a lot of work before the team could even hold its first practice.

Still, Harder would love to see the Strikers grow into a multi-team organization.

“That’s kind of the goal,” he says. “If somebody next year wanted to start up a 12-year-old team, I could get them the info and help them with that, because we’ve already done it. It would be nice to see.”

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