KAMLOOPS — Goodbye hugs and congratulations were aplenty for Keith Liddiard on Friday, spending his final day with Kamloops youth soccer with friends and colleagues, talking about old stories and reflecting on his 10 years as executive director.
"I've had the privilege of meeting some really wonderful people in this sport," said Liddiard during a retirement luncheon on McArthur Island on Friday. "I've cherished that, and as indicated today by the number of people that have dropped by, I'm absolutely thrilled from the memories I have of the sport that I love, I'm passionate about."
In the decade he's been in charge, Liddiard has elevated everything about the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association, mainly the level of competition of most local teams.
"We have some wonderful, very technically-gifted and knowledgeable people working with our athletes, and the end result of that has been, whereas we used to struggle to be competitive with teams from the Coast we can now give them a good run for their money," noted Liddiard. "It's not unusual to see a lot of our team entering and even winning provincial cups."
Liddiard came to Kamloops from Pitt Meadows where he served as the association's head coach. He was previously the executive director of the B.C. Youth Soccer Association for 20 years.
He was hired in 2008 by then-President of KYSA Graham Cope at a time when the association was floundering.
"It was no question. This is the guy we need to hire," said Cope at Friday's luncheon. "My question at the time is, why would he come here? He was just too good for what we were offering. KYSA was in really dire straits at the time. We had overstressed individuals, overstressed volunteers, staff. It was just a mess."
But Liddiard turned it around year after year through his knowledge and connections with the soccer community. He feels he's ready to take on another challenge outside the game, but first he plans to do some travelling with his wife.
"We are going to travel quite a bit. I have a fairly lengthy bucket list and it's going to start with another trip to Hawaii in March and other trips through the year. I think we're off the U.K. in August, and obviously there are a number of other places I want to travel, and now I have the time to do it," he said.
"I keep telling people 'stop and smell the roses' and find out there's some other things going on out there other than soccer."
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