BROOKLYN -- Ambyr Flahaven recalls spending the summers of her youth playing soccer in her parents’ front field.
Sadly, she admits, the Brooklyn Soccer field her parents, Cletus and Linda Dunn, started 25 years ago is no more. Registrations had dwindled to the point this year that the Brooklyn soccer program was no longer feasible.
“I feel that field is part of me, part of my family, Flahaven said in a telephone interview from Nova Scotia.
It was a unique field, Flahaven acknowledges, much smaller than regulation size and it was the only one with sideboards.
Well, not real sideboards, just long grass. The grass was deliberately left long just out of bounds, “which was really great for little kids because they couldn’t kick the ball too far out of bounds,” Flahaven explained.
The Dunns, with the help of other parents, got the program going 25 years ago because there were lots of young children in the neighbourhood at the time.
Flahaven suggested the changes in population dynamics did the field in.
“The friends I’ve made from playing there are still among my closest friends, and we still get together sometimes – once a year – and play on that field, even though we’re all way too big for it now,” Flahaven said.
In fact, a few years back, while home for Christmas, she sustained a black eye while playing on that field in the middle of the night. “It was our group. We grew up playing on that field. We were having a party that night and we said, ‘This is our field. We’ve got to go out and celebrate it,’” she recounted.
Linda Dunn recalls having to put supper preparation on hold over the years to go out and officiate on the little field. She said the Tuesday and Thursday games produced a lot of great memories. Cars would often be parked along both sides of the clay road beside the field, a situation that sometimes made it difficult for farm machinery to pass through.
The program started in 1989 with one Under 9 group. It subsequently grew to four groups, Under 12, 10, 8 and 6. Some players who got their start in soccer on the Brooklyn field went on to play at the university and college level and to officiate at the national level. The Under 12 program was discontinued after a few years because of the size of the field, and a second field for Under 6 was added on the Dunns’ front lawn.
The Dunns extended their thanks for all the parents, players and community members for their support over the years and for the individuals who cut grass and supplied benches and nets for the fields.
“It will be quiet now,” Linda Dunn reflected.
Even though the program has ended, Flahaven still hopes her children will be able to make use of the old soccer field when they come to P.E.I. to visit their grandparents.