The indoor season of minor soccer started on Saturday in Calgary, and for thousands of families, it means the start of returning to normal after two pandemic-interrupted seasons.
This season, there are more than 8,500 players registered, which is an increase of over a thousand from the last indoor season.
Last fall, players were only able to take part in one or two games before COVID-19 restrictions forced games to halt. No games were played until June 2021.
“It was really, really fun,” said 12-year-old Noah Terry, who was playing at the Calgary West Soccer Centre on Saturday morning.
“I got to play with my friends. We got to hang out and play soccer again.”
Like many other kids, Terry said it’s been tough having indoor soccer interrupted by the pandemic.
“I wasn’t really that active. I didn’t have much to do. I went outside to kick the ball around for a little bit and then came inside because I wanted to be with my friends and kick the ball around with them,” Terry said.
Players now get the added bonus of playing in the newly renovated Calgary West Soccer Centre.
“The fields are packed. You can feel the energy from the players and parents. I think everyone’s having a really good time today,” said Jordan Stewart, Calgary Minor Soccer Association technical leader.
The $2-million overhaul resulted in the boards being removed, making play more like outdoor soccer.
The new field house at the Calgary West Soccer Centre is one of two FIFA-quality surfaces in all of Canada and the only field in Western Canada, according to the CMSA.
“That will allow us to align with our national body, Canada Soccer, to hopefully bring some international competitions here. Even looking forward to 2026 and maybe being a base camp for the FIFA men’s World Cup,” said Carlo Bruneau, executive director of CMSA.
Bruneau said the Calgary West Soccer Centre renovation is just the start. The plan now is to modernize other city facilities as well.
The organization is exploring options to create more year-round spaces by covering existing turf fields.
“I think our strategy, at this point, is to modernize some of the existing infrastructure, which we have done in this facility. We are working with the municipal government to also modernize and create domes over at the Calgary Soccer Centre,” Bruneau said.
Players over 12 must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask when not playing. All spectators that show proof of vaccination are welcome at the Calgary West Soccer Centre and Calgary Soccer Centre, but the Foothills Fieldhouse has chosen to limit it to one spectator per child.
“At this time, only one parent per player will be permitted to attend and watch their child participate in CMSA league matches when scheduled at the Macron Performance Centre,” read a document on the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club website.
“We understand the frustration this may cause, but as we manage a post-COVID season, we want to ensure safety of everyone to ensure we don’t increase the spread of COVID-19 and cause
further disruption to youth sporting activities.”
According to the website, all spectators will be required to provide proof of vaccination — in the form of a QR code or hard copy — or the appropriate documentation of a proof of negative test within 72 hours or medical exemption.
Additional security will be on hand to help educate any unco-operative spectators.