GOOOAAAALLLL! Today, it’s one of the most widely played sports
across the nation. But in actual fact, the basic principles of soccer
date back thousands of years, and in Canada, its history is older
than the country itself.
In modern times, it’s widely considered that the first country to
transition the game of football into what it is today was England.
These passionate players and fans brought the game to Canadian
soil during the later half of the 19th century as they travelled here
to settle and establish new beginnings. One of the earliest
recorded soccer games was played in Toronto in 1859. However, it
didn’t take long for the game to grow and spread across the
country – including Vancouver Island. In its early years, Nanaimo
was considered as the leading soccer hotbed in the province.
It was also around this time that the Nanaimo Football Association
was established. The club was one of the first of Nanaimo’s
premier soccer teams and the host of the prestigious Grand
Challenge Cup, which was considered BC’s top soccer prize of the
time. In 1903, the Nanaimo Association Football Team put together
an all-star roster to compete for the senior challenge cup.
Pictured above is the legendary team, including three Indigenous
players from the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Among them – second
from the right, bottom row – is Harry Manson. Known for his
impressive speed and scoring abilities, he is regarded as one of
Nanaimo’s best players. But he was also a groundbreaker, as he
was the only player of either European or Aboriginal descent to
play on all three Nanaimo premier soccer teams — Nanaimo
Thistles, Nanaimo Indian Wanderers, and Nanaimo Association
The final results of the Grand Challenge Cup? Nanaimo won with a
final score of 4-1, and all the goals were scored by Snuneymuxw
First Nations players.