Photo Courtesy: Edmonton Soccer Dome Twitter Page
*This is the third article in a series of features discussing soccer fields and facilities in Edmonton*
The lack of full-sized indoor soccer fields has always been an issue in the city of Edmonton. With the rise of Edmonton Soccer Dome it’s starting to improve, but there is still a big demand for proper facilities for the fastest growing sport in the country.
The transition to indoor poses many challenges for not only coaches and players, but for families as well. The indoor season creates a financial burden for minor soccer clubs and families as the cost to play rises.
Another issue with the lack of facilities is hindering development for many players. From a technical point of view, most teams train in smaller gymnasiums located at junior high or elementary schools. The size of these facilities does not allow any work in key elements of the game. It also limits goalkeepers from training properly because diving around on a hardwood floor isn’t good for the body.
“In terms of trying to work on tactical play, you will be very limited,” explains Edmonton Scottish Technical Director Kevin Possaint. “You can’t even work on four-vs-two drills in those environments. I’ve found that we are mainly doing exercises to keep kids busy until we can get outdoors, or the odd occasion we can access a turf facility.”
“Many of those gym environments don’t even have goals. They are designed for indoor sports like basketball, volleyball, and badminton, and they certainly aren’t designed for soccer.”
With the addition of more full-field turf facilities, it will allow minor soccer organizations to provide a more traditional game during the indoor season. Possaint notes that the Dome will be working with groups such as the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) and Edmonton Interdistrict Youth Soccer Association (EIYSA) to provide more realistic match environments for competitive tiers.
Prior to the dome, all EMSA teams were playing a boarded game of soccer. Time slots for practices are scarce during the indoor season because all peak hour time slots are allocated for league matches. Now, some EMSA teams will be playing in the Dome, freeing up space for other minor soccer groups to train using the boarded facilities.
“EMSA will be running league play here for the first time,” says Possaint. “They’ve seen interest for a non-boarded style of soccer grow on their side of things.”
“They see boarded soccer as a fantastic game model for players who aren’t going down the elite route. Those who want to challenge for the next level of competition need to play the traditional game more often and they have that option now.”
EIYSA were dependent solely on the Victoria Soccer Club for time slots for their seven-vs-seven and nine-vs-nine matches. Games would start as early as seven in the morning and continue until the late hours of the evening. Some of those issues will be alleviated as a few league matches move to the Dome.
Minor soccer leagues, clubs and players are slowly getting access to more realistic soccer environments, but there is still a demand for even more indoor facilities, which will help our city reach its true soccer potential. The Edmonton Soccer Dome is an important part of the puzzle, but there are still many missing pieces to be put together.
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