60 years of success for one of Canada's most successful soccer clubs

Vancouver, BC: 2013 has become a standout year for Columbus FC, one of British Columbia and Canada’s most famous soccer clubs, and their many years of success will be recognized as they are inducted this weekend into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.

The Vancouver based club, founded in 1953 and members of the Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL), are celebrating 60 years of success and are being recognized in the ‘Organization of Distinction’ category in ceremonies this weekend in Toronto. Led by former player Joe Cuzzetto, BC Soccer Board Member and member of the 1978 Canadian National Challenge Cup winning team, the club will be represented at the event by numerous former players, coaches and administrators making the journey to be part of the historic event.

“My 35 years with Columbus has been a magical experience as I have so many great memories of being part of this club.  I started with the team when I was 17 years old and I have played continuously to today where I still play for the over 50s team”, said Cuzzetto. “It is not solely a soccer club, its members through all the decades continue to be united as a strong family where generations of players come together annually to reminisce about the old days and plan together for future days.  I feel simply honoured to be part of this organization and am proud of the honour bestowed upon us by the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame,” he added.

This caps a memorable year for the club whose men’s team won the VMSL Premier League Championship, and their Masters team doing the double of winning the BC Soccer Provincial Masters Championship and VMSL League B Cup.

Michael Findlay, former player and now BC Soccer Director of Soccer Development commented, “I was blessed to play with a number of organizations throughout 30 plus years as a player but when asked I will always consider Columbus FC as my home club”. The club, the atmosphere and the overall philosophy of the organization provided me with a tremendous opportunity to forge great and long lasting relationships. I am also so pleased to see so many alumni of the club who have continued their service and dedication to the game in Canada in the capacity of volunteer, coach and executive…a great honour for all,” he added.

Their on-field success has been notable having won numerous BC Provincial Championships, League Championships, Kennedy and Imperial Cups.  Provincial dominance also led to National club success and Columbus has won the Canadian National Challenge Trophy four times, 1964, 1969, 1977 and 1978 and were Finalists in 1968 and 2007.

Frank Ciaccia, former national team player and currently technical director of Mountain United FC, is someone who has been associated with the club for over 30 years. He recalls many of the memorable moments of his time with the club. “I have fond memories of attending Callister Park on Sunday afternoons after Church with my Dad and brother. This was pretty much the routine for Italian families in Vancouver at the time. The stadium was always full of characters that were as interesting as some of the players to us youngsters. Callister Park was essentially a dirt field that held demolition derbies through the week so it wasn't uncommon for the players to kick up auto debris during the Sunday games”.   He added, “the recognition bestowed upon the club couldn't be more fitting and more deserved. We are all extremely proud and on behalf of all members associated with this great Club, we convey our thanks and gratitude for this wonderful honour and national recognition”

Since being founded by Father Joseph Scanagatta as Sacred Heart soccer team, with the goal of providing a team for the many Italian immigrants who settled in the East Vancouver, Columbus has been at the forefront of BC and Canadian soccer ever since.  The team has provided more players than any other amateur club in Canada to Canada's Professional, Provincial, Olympic and National Team rosters and holds the distinction of having the most players in the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame with eleven players.

Charlie Cuzzetto, Canadian Soccer Association Board Member and former BC Soccer President is someone who has been closely involved with the club on many levels since the 1960’s. He has played an influential role in its development and has filled roles as a coach, general manager and as a player in the masters over 50’s team. “I am very proud to have been part of this club which has a history of great players, dedicated soccer community builders, coaches and numerous committed volunteers”.

Other Columbus alumni include current CSA President Victor Montagliani, CSA Technical Director and former Portuguese national team player Tony Fonseca, University of Victoria Head Coach and captain of the Canadian team at the 1986 FIFA World Cup finals Bruce Wilson, member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and former Whitecap legend Sam Lenarduzzi, and Buzz Parsons, national team player and member of the Whitecaps FC Soccer Bowl winning team of 1979.

Tony Fonseca commented on how his brief interaction with Columbus had a big impact on him, “I found a lot of joy and friendship. I was lucky to have met a great group of people that loved the game and at the same time strong human values and principles. Congratulations for being inducted to the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, it is very well deserved”.

Former Canadian national team and Vancouver 86ers player Guido Titotto, who was also part of the recent Columbus FC BC Provincial Cup Masters winning team summed up the thoughts of many for what the organization has meant to them, “The Columbus FC organization has been a class act to be involved in, both on and off the field. The club really prides itself on winning, and winning the right way, it’s no accident that Columbus FC has been so successful for so many decades, as it’s these core values – respect, winning, pride, commitment, and everyone contributing –  that have continued to be passed on through the generations of players.”

Columbus FC’s induction follows similar recognition for another historic BC Soccer club Victoria West, inducted last year into the Hall of Fame.

For more information about the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and Awards

About BC Soccer

BC Soccer is the provincial sport governing body responsible for the promotion and development of the game in British Columbia. The professional not-for-profit society is committed to developing the game by inspiring British Columbians to lifelong active, inclusive and team play.

Its vision is to pursue Canada's foremost integrated soccer development system built upon club, school, varsity and professional team excellence. BC Soccer is comprised of 150 member Clubs, Districts and Leagues, spanning more than 120,000 registered players, over 2,500 referees, and thousands of coaches and other volunteer administrators and soccer leaders. Working with these member Clubs, Districts and Leagues, BC Soccer will operate under the guiding principles of Professional Leadership, Passionate Service and Progressive Collaboration. In managing its relationships throughout the larger soccer community, BC Soccer will promote the integral soccer values of authenticity, unity and integrity.

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