‘Soccer is my religion’: Nick Kollias built up the game he loves in northern B.C.
Beloved Terrace soccer coach Nick Kollias moved to the community in 1976 from Greece and has since helped build a community around enthusiasm for the sport.
As a child back in Greece, Kollias was gifted a soccer ball and the rest is history.
“Soccer is my religion, I can tell you. We have three symbols in Greece; country, family and religion — and the fourth one is soccer,” Kollias said.
“In each village you only have one soccer ball for the whole town. I was very lucky my godmother bought me a soccer ball, that’s why I became a soccer player.”
Since moving to Canada Kollias’ coaching has inspired the likes of Cam Hundal from Terrace who went on to become a five-time Canada West All-Star. He says he wouldn’t be where he is now without Kollias, who he’s known since kindergarten.
Over the years Kollias coached the Caledonia Secondary High School boys and girls teams, various select teams, BC summer games teams and double A provincial teams.
He’s worked with the BC Soccer Association’s summer soccer academy in Shawnigan Lake and developed soccer camps with other BC coaches.
Kollias ran private soccer clinics and worked with individual players and helped them develop their skills for tryouts.
He’s coached soccer in First Nations communities through the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (ISPARC).
For the past 13 years Kollias held indoor soccer clinics for boys and girls from 5 years old to 18 years old. He also ran clinics for the Terrace Women’s Soccer League for beginners.
He has also refereed and played in the men’s league and old-timers league.
He was recently recognized by the Northwest Scholarship Foundation for his $40,000 in contributions to scholarships for more than 100 Caledonia students over the last 20 years.
Now 70-years old, Kollias is moving to Calgary where he plans to pass on his knowledge of the sport to his grandchildren.
“Terrace is a good community. Thank you Terrace,” he said through tears when asked about moving on.
“I’ve had a lot of support from my wife and my kids so without them I couldn’t have gone this far.”
Kollias encouraged parents in the community to spend time with their children and to get them involved with sports as much as possible, promising the rewards always roll in later on.
“I feel so good when I walk in town and I meet those kids who I coached and they say ‘Hi, Mr. Kollias. Thank you for coaching me.’”
The health benefits to being involved in sports as an adult are also a big bonus.
“An important point for me was keeping fit, that’s a key point for me, stay away from the couch. When you get older you have to watch yourself and not push the limit,” Kollias said.
“Now that I’m retired, I’m spending time with old friends, having coffee and watching the game. While I’m watching the game every time my feet move as if I’m playing, like my dad used to do.”