By Alex Rickman
On a beautiful, sunny afternoon in North Vancouver on July 16th, hundreds of people flocked to historic Kinsmen Field to take on the Victoria Highlanders in their final home game of 2023. Having never been to an Altitude game before this day, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a day out at Kinsmen, but after experiencing an Altitude game I can safely say that I can’t wait to return next season, and think that every soccer fan on the North Shore should be doing the same. Here are some of the highlights of my experience, and what really made my day when I visited Kinsmen.
Starting with the atmosphere, Kinsmen Field provides everything you could want for a fun Sunday kicking back and enjoying some soccer. The first thing you notice entering the stadium is the music pumping, giving you this feeling like you’re walking into a party or barbecue. Before the game and between the men’s and women’s games, a great selection of songs that all bring a fun, energetic vibe to the stadium can be heard, really helping keep everyone in a good mood throughout the day. Additionally, musician B Kenyan keeps the energy up with his halftime performances, including a special song written about the club. In addition to the music, the fan facilities, such as the Whistler Brewing beer garden, give fans a great spot to unwind with a cold one while taking in the game. All in all, the club have put a lot of care into creating an enjoyable atmosphere at Kinsmen Field, and it really does show.
What about the on-field product at Altitude? While they weren’t able to take home the W in the men’s or women’s games on this day, both teams showed a lot of fight, especially in the late stages of the game, and some good individual performances and scoring chances kept the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout the full 90 of both games. On the men’s side, wingback Wizaso Chavula particularly caught my eye with his ability on the ball and willingness to take on defenders and consistently get through them to create chances. Meanwhile, on the women’s side, midfielder Charlotte Ring showed a lot of confidence in her play, generating a lot of chances for herself and the team. Both the men’s and women’s teams played with a lot of passion right until the end, and even though they were unable to get the results in the end, the players should be proud of their efforts, as they truly gave their all for the club and the supporters.
The experience of being able to watch the game on a field with the history of Kinsmen also can’t go without mention. For those unaware, Kinsmen has played host to teams such as the great North Shore United during the first half of the 20th century, and the North Shore Colts during the 1980s. A plaque outside of Kinsmen commemorates these and other teams that have called Kinsmen home over the years, and Altitude hopes to continue working on the facility in an effort to return it to its former glory. But, even without the great grandstand that Kinsmen sadly lost to a fire during the 70s, there’s a great charm and historical feel to the ground that truly helps you feel the history of the ground.
One other area that I’d be remiss to not mention is the incredible team of volunteers who sacrifice their time to make sure everything at Altitude runs as smoothly as can be. These volunteers arrive at the field hours before kickoff to ensure that the pitch is ready for game time, tents are set up for the ticket and merchandise booths and, of course, the ever-important beer garden, and so much more to ensure that everything that makes an Altitude game a great experience is ready to go. Volunteering can often be a thankless job, but this group of volunteers really do deserve some love, as without their hard work none of what makes the Altitude experience great would be possible.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the event that Altitude managed to put on. The quality of soccer being played was impressive and very entertaining as a fan of the sport, the casual atmosphere gives a unique vibe that few if any football clubs in the province can bring to the table, and everyone working at the park does a great job making you feel right at home. Hopefully, more and more people will come out to visit Kinsmen Field for years to come, getting to experience a great day out enjoying the world’s game at a field with a rich history like Kinsmen.