Legend of the soccer pitch
Al Cooke, who had been plagued by heart troubles in the last years of his life, suffered a pair of heart attacks in a space of five days. He died on June 18, 2007.
Al"s son Charlie was nine when the Cookes moved to Stonewall.
One of my earliest memories was watching the 72 Canada- Russia series with my dad, he says.
Charlie says his dad was involved with minor hockey, and in 1972 was a top-level coach. He helped organize a tiered hockey program in Winnipeg prior to moving to Stonewall.
Al coached hockey for approximately ten years, but for most of his life, he devoted himself to soccer.
Some people are handy and build houses, says Charlie. He built soccer programs.
In the 1950s, the Cookes were living in Winnipeg.
He was one of four guys who started community soccer in Silver Heights, says Charlie. He also helped build the soccer pitches at Mount Royal St. and Ness Ave.
Years ago, Charlie says he asked his dad why he bothered to do all the sports stuff that he did.
When he was a kid, he didn't always get a chance to play, says Charlie.
He really wanted to create a situation where kids could play.
Cooke's legacy in Stonewall is apparent: he started Stonewall Minor Soccer.
He founded the Stonewall United soccer club about 35 years ago. Cooke was coach and a player on the team for 25 years.
About 10 years ago, he slowed down a little bit. He stopped coaching Stonewall United and started a women?s team - the Stonewall Grads, which he coached well into his late 70s.
The most obvious contribution in town is Cooke's Field, the community soccer pitches across the street from the VMSC.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that we would ever have 600 kids playing out here,? Cooke told the Argus in 2004. ?There?s more kids playing soccer than all other sports put together.?
Charlie, who coaches girls? soccer at the Stonewall Collegiate, says he?s had kids come up to him and ask if the field is named after him.
I've had people tell me this is one of the best soccer facilities they've seen,? he says. The level of care that the field gets makes the difference, he says.
Cooke says he's planning to set up a plaque at the field in honour of his dad.
I'm starting to talk it up, he says. The plaque will be there to remind players of the man who worked his entire life to give them a chance to play soccer in Stonewall