Feature: Edmonton Soccer Dome

Photo Courtesy: Edmonton Soccer Dome Facebook Page
*This is the second article in a series of features discussing soccer fields and facilities in Edmonton*

With the changing of the seasons comes a shift in minor soccer, as teams in Edmonton and area transition from the outdoor game to indoors.

This change poses many challenges for youth programs. Teams move from training in a natural environment outside to makeshift settings during the indoor season. Clubs mainly train in school gymnasiums, creating a few issues for technical directors, coaches, players and their families.

“The immediate constraint when coming to indoor is that we aren’t in a soccer-specific environment,” says Edmonton Scottish Soccer Club Technical Director Kevin Possaint. “When we rented turf fields, they were very costly and sporadic in terms of training times.”

The arrival of the Edmonton Soccer dome, built by the Edmonton Scottish Society, is helping to ease a lot of the past struggles for not only Scottish United, but many other soccer clubs around the city.

The massive dome encompasses over 12,500 square metres (135,000 square feet), is 152.5 metres (500 feet) long by 53.34 metres (175 feet) wide, and over 25 metres (84 feet) tall. It’s been designed to host three different game models which fall in line with how soccer is played during the indoor season: seven-vs-seven, nine-vs-nine and full sided matches.

“We are training in a soccer environment and we can work on things we can’t in gymnasiums,” Poissant says. “It’s not only going to help development for players, but coaches as well.”

With other indoor sports also demanding prime gym time slots, it is harder for everyone to book practices at convenient times. Poissant points out having kids under the age of 10 training in the latter hours of the evening poses challenges for families.

Possaint also mentions, based on feedback from parents, some children’s sleeping patterns are affected by late training sessions. This occasionally leads to irritability in the mornings, and, as a result, parents begin to pull their kids from the program.

“One of the things younger families rely on is predictability in scheduling, and that was an issue in the past because your training schedules would vary and it would make it very difficult, to the point we were losing families,” Poissant explains. “But we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

“It makes it easier for me and other coaches because we can create a periodization plan for teams, which aligns with Canada Soccer’s new youth club license.”

When training in a gym, extra or different equipment is needed due to certain requirements, such as soccer balls featuring an outer coating similar to tennis balls. In addition, families are expected to buy shoes which won’t ruin or scuff up gymnasiums floors, as cleats and turf shoes are not allowed.

The extra equipment and expensive rental costs have caused registration fees to climb.

“One of the great things about soccer is that it’s generally an activity families can afford,” Possaint notes. “Once you start escalating your fees where they are getting closer to a hockey environment, you are excluding a lot of families.”

Poissant points out the emergence of facilities like the Edmonton Soccer Dome will help to alleviate some of the costs, and keep the sport accessible for everyone.

“At the same time, we are freeing time for other sports clubs in the city. For every hour soccer teams aren’t in gymnasiums, it means an extra hour is available for teams playing basketball, volleyball, badminton and handball.”

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