In mid-November, 2017 Vancouver Island Soccer League president Vince Greco had sent Greater Victoria media a message letting them know that he was stepping down from his volunteer position.
When asked, he told Victoria Sports News that if the position paid, he would do it full-time.
“It would be a lifestyle job,” he said at the time. “I would love to do it full-time. This is my passion. I love this game, and the community and I enjoy working with all the people. But I have stepped aside for my family as well as to remove myself while the discussions take place.”
Those discussions were about how to take the last remaining league in the province of BC like it, from having a volunteer president and make the financial justification for a full-time paid position.
Over six months later, the committee, having received other qualified applications found the best candidate to be right in their own backyard. Greco was offered the position. “After some, “I”s were dotted and details ironed out, I was formally offered the position last week and took it.
“A week ago they told me, but Tuesday they made it public.”
Asked how he felt about being selected he said, “There was a bit of emotion there. I will be honest. I was a little surprised, but then I am also very confident too. Really it validated all the work that I had put in over the years. The emotional part was the good feelings inside, those warm and fuzzy emotions, but validation too.”
Greco is known as the soccer guy. Even his neighbours did not know for years that he worked for a living outside of soccer, they thought soccer was his career. His own father-in-law, a man he respects very much said, “Your job does not define you, you are a soccer guy. I don’t know you as an Island Health guy, I know you as a soccer guy.”
It was with his father-in-law and his wife’s blessings, after many talks, that he got the family endorsement to pursue the career switch.
“She knows how happy I was doing soccer stuff.”
So the former Island Health (VIHA) employee and family man with two young children, will move away from a secure job, but keep his foot in the door to help Island Health when they need it. Going forward he will focus full-time on continuing to keep VISL a well-oiled machine, a machine that he was instrumental in maintaining for the past seven years.
The position is now called Executive Director and is much more complicated than it was a decade earlier.
“We have compliance and legal issues that are quite complex. It is not as simple as it used to be,” said Greco.
“We grew the league and now registrations have flattened out, but there is much more to the job beyond numbers. When committee members and volunteers were asked which tasks would they like to take on, that I did, they realized the scope of the position.”
Apparently, there is an amnesty on league fees going up, to pay for the position, but at the end of the day, it will be a few dollars per year per player starting in 2020. “A cup of Starbucks coffee, each,” he said.
Asked what his first big task will be to do he said, “Bring back into the fold, the Strathcona Hotel.” He was initially responsible for getting the hotel to become the league title sponsor and the owner Grant Olson understood how valuable of an asset Greco was to the league that he wrote a recommendation for him to fill the position.
They have supported the league since at least 2000 and likely before then. In 2012 Greco suggested that the landmark hotel and nightlife hub should be a title sponsor. They have been ever since.
“Their support is unbelievable,” says Greco. “I can’t thank them enough. They have been absolutely great for the league, no question.”
Currently, there are over 1800 men playing soccer in Victoria. Add in volunteers, referees, other officials you have 2000-plus involved in the sport. There are approximately 1100 women playing as well.
“At the end of the day, it was my wife’s buy-in and my father-in-law’s words that gave me the encouragement needed to take this on and for that I am very thankful.”