Halifax PLAYS

The Story of Halifax PLAYS

Halifax PLAYS was founded in Summer 2012 as “Sports for Players by Players” by longtime Halifax friends Nikheel Premsagar & Shitangshu Roy. The idea for the league arose out of frustration about the limited options available to Halifax residents to play rec soccer. In particular, costs for recreational play usually ran anywhere from $80 to $200+ per season, and players rarely had much of a say in running the leagues they paid so much for. This was a sentiment shared by many others, and we quickly found out that we were not alone in our concerns. To quote one Haligonian who contacted us: “After you turn 18, there isn’t much opportunity to just play unless you’re a competitive superstar or have fat pockets.”

Successful Beginnings: ​The Summer of 2012

Operating with these principles in mind, we managed successfully to start our first soccer league on the 26th of May. However, the interest we had got was overwhelming, so much so that, on 15 June 2012, we created an additional rec soccer league, each of which had six co-ed teams and around 100 playersIt was a diverse bunch of folks that started this journey with us, from teenagers to seniors, from beginners to soccer superstars, and from almost every corner of the world imaginable.

We also had countless kind volunteers helping us along the way to make everything run smoothly, and for them, we are ever grateful (visit the “Recognizing Key Volunteers” fore more). With their efforts, costs for our leagues were just 20-30% of our competitors, despite us providing s
uperior service, a more fun experience & even better equipment than most similar Halifax leagues, at least according to the overwhelmingly positive feedback we got from our many players!

How the Success Continued...

Soon after our first leagues in Summer 2012, we made a directed effort to expand our volunteer base, inviting & recruiting volunteer organizers who had demonstrated the desire, dedication & vision to run their own sports leagues with us. Consequently, 2012 saw us organize a Fall Soccer league, followed by 5 further leagues in soccerball hockey, and volleyball by the year 2013. Within just 2 years, we had run 8 different sports leagues with 10+ organizers, countless more volunteers, & 100’s of players. 
In 2014, our success continued. We successfully got ratification as a Non-Profit Society under the NS Registry of Joint Stocks & renamed ourselves the “Halifax Players’ League for Affordable Yearly Sports” Association (i.e. “PLAYS”; Registry # 3281353). 2014 also saw our expansion into indoor ball hockeysoftball & flag football, again driven by an ever-growing volunteer base of passionate individuals with a vision of making their favorite sport available & accessible in Halifax. Even more exciting, we realized a long-term goal that had been present at our inception, by establishing our first season youth soccer program, through the guidance & inspiration of Park West Kickaround Club (PWKC), a grassroots youth soccer group founded in 2013 by one of our adult soccer players, Conrad Fox. By the end of the year, we again doubled in size, having run 9 sports leagues (total 17 since 20132, with close to 600 total players, in 2014. Each had their own unique stories of beginnings & survival. It was another year of growth.

Hopes, Dreams & Sports

So, what’s next? 2015 has already seen us expand our indoor presence, through the creation of indoor soccer & ball hockey leagues in Winter 2015. Indeed, we are even exploring plans for indoor youth soccer & table tennis programs. With many volunteers also returning for the Spring/ Summer to run now-regular soccer, softball, flag football & ball hockey offerings, 2015 looks to be another exciting year!
In the long-term though, we want to see PLAYS become one of the largest multi-sport recreational leagues in Canada. How? (a) By creating PLAYS groups in many different cities; (b) By expanding into a variety of new sports; and (c) By focusing more on developing our youth sports leagues. Admittedly, this vision sounds overly optimistic, but we think that these goals can be reached with time.
Finally, to quote the great Muhammad Ali, “Champions are made from something they have deep inside them- a desire, a dream, a vision.” While we, as league execs, may never become sports stars ourselves, we hope PLAYS will one day champion the common desire & vision to make sport accessible to all.

Lessons Learnt

It has been a long road since Halifax PLAYS’ inception in 2012. Throughout this time we have faced many challenges and learnt many lessons through the hard work of our volunteers, board members, employees, and players. One of the lessons we have learnt as an organization is that of our role. In the early days of Halifax PLAYS we used to try to oversee and influence all leagues to be managed in our vision. Our volunteer managers felt otherwise and showed us by leaving our organization. We now know that it is our responsibility not to control leagues but to simply support our fantastic volunteers. Our volunteer league managers know their community, how it can most successfully be organized, and the individual players and teams that comprise the league. By stepping back and giving volunteers more creative freedom they are able to create personalized and quality leagues beyond our capabilities. Volunteers may make mistakes along the way but we are all able to learn from this as a community and continue to expand and improve our recreation offerings.