The East York Soccer Club was founded by Dragan Zagar and Bob Dale in 1977 with the objective to bring the community closer together, but has now become one of the largest soccer clubs in Toronto.
The club is also well-known throughout Ontario. The club has gone to attend a number of soccer events such as the Ontario indoor cup, national club championships and the Albert Campbell Tournament.
The club had 300 participants when it first began but in 2022 they have more than 2,000 players as it has grown with the East York community.
“I believe that the East York Soccer Club is truly one of the pillars of the East York community,” said Spiro Sigalas-Selas, former coach of the 2002 East York girls soccer team. “Anybody that lives in the community either has children involved, has been involved themselves or at least has heard of the club.”
The club also accepts community support through sponsors that help the club to pay for equipment, hold tournaments, and maintain fields and facilities. Teams can also be sponsored.
The club during the pandemic
When non-essential businesses and programs had to to shut down in 2020 due to the pandemic, the EYSC was in the same boat. It cancelled its house league program for the first time since the club’s creation.
Theo Zagar, son of co-founder Dragan Zagar, said they were not prepared when COVID hit.
“Everything was shut down and we did not know when and how things would restart,” he said. “The Club was in a decent financial state but still took a hit as expenses still needed to be paid.”
The rep program was continued but only for practices and no games.
Every club needed to have a Return to Play Plan in order to resume and all coaches and parents had to know the protocols during every phase.
Practice sessions and friendly matches (with restrictions) were still held and the house league reopened again in 2021.
The club received a lift this year when Canada’s national men’s team qualified for the FIFA World Cup, the first time since 1986. Theo Zagar, who was once a member of the national team, said he was thrilled that they made it.
“I believe this accomplishment will have a great impact on our sport in our club, community, province and country,” he said. “We [also] saw the success of the women’s national program, which contributed to a rise of girls playing soccer — which continues to rise.”
Who can join?
The club operates from May to September with registration currently open. Children from 4 to 18 can join the club on the EYSC registration page.
There are no plans for the club’s 45th anniversary due to the pandemic but they are hopeful the club will bounce back and be ready to celebrate its 50th.