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Free Saskatoon soccer program returns for the 13th summer

Free Saskatoon soccer program returns for the 13th summer
WATCH: Kids In the Park has returned for a 13th year, providing a free soccer program for youth to attend daily. Derek Bidwell has more on the program.

Kids In the Park has returned for a 13th year, providing a free soccer program for youth to attend daily.

It’s free of charge and brings a soccer experience to Saskatoon youth in their own neighborhoods, with an aim to remove the financial and transportation barriers.

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“It’s a great way to keep the kids active throughout the summer months, and this year it is looking a little bit different due to the COVID pandemic,” says Amanda Probe, Saskatoon Youth Soccer executive director. “So our group sizes are smaller, we are only going to six locations this summer and parents are required to register and participate on-field with their kids.”

Many people are viewing that change to the program as a good one, says Probe, as it gives kids and their parent or caregiver time together, being active outside and developing a love for the game.

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“It’s very dependent on the parent too. Sometimes the kids can not get engaged and the parents encourage them to get going,” said Dylan Giroux, Kids in the Park team leader.

“They get some quality time together because they are pretty much playing together, we’re just setting up the games and walking them through it, but a lot of the games incorporate the parents and the kids.”

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“It’s also an opportunity for young coaches to get involved in soccer and to get an experience other than just playing the game as well,” says Declan O’Reilly, whose company O’Reilly Insurance sponsors the program. “It helps them develop their abilities to work with younger kids, and helps grow the coaching community as well in Saskatoon.”

Kids In the Park takes place in six parks around Saskatoon, with sessions in the morning and afternoon, wrapping up on Aug. 20.

“We really hope that it continues long after the program is done, that they continue to do this with their kids in their backyards and in their neighborhood parks and perhaps this fall in our indoor season,” Probe said