The indoor futsal season began on Saturday in Calgary and, for thousands of families, it marks the beginning of a return to normalcy after two seasons interrupted by the pandemic.
This season, there are more than 8,500 registered players, an increase of more than a thousand from last season indoors.
Last fall, gamers were only able to participate in one or two games before COVID-19 restrictions forced games to stop. No games were played until June 2021.
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“It was really, really fun,” said 12-year-old Noah Terry, who was playing at the Calgary West Soccer Center on Saturday morning.
“I was able to play with my friends. We were able to hang out and play soccer again. “
Like many other children, Terry said it has been difficult for futsal to be disrupted by the pandemic.
“He wasn’t really that active. He didn’t have much to do. I went out to kick the ball a little bit and then I went in because I wanted to be with my friends and kick the ball with them, ”Terry said.
Players now get the added advantage of playing at the newly renovated Calgary West Soccer Center.
“The fields are full. You can feel the energy of the players and the parents. I think everyone is having a great time today, ”said Jordan Stewart, head coach of the Calgary Minor Soccer Association.
The $ 2 million overhaul resulted in the removal of the tables, making the game more like outdoor soccer.
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The new field home at the Calgary West Soccer Center 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 bring some international competitions here. Even looking towards 2026 and perhaps being a base camp for the FIFA Men’s World Cup, ”said Carlo Bruneau, CMSA CEO.
Bruneau said the renovation of the Calgary West Soccer Center is just the beginning. The plan now is to modernize other facilities in the city as well.
The organization is exploring options to create more spaces throughout the year by covering existing grass pitches.
“I think our strategy, at this point, is to modernize part of the existing infrastructure, which we have done at this facility. We are working with the municipal government to also modernize and create domes at the Calgary Soccer Center, ”said Bruneau.
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Players 12 and older must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask when not playing. All spectators showing proof of vaccination are welcome at the Calgary West Soccer Center and Calgary Soccer Center, but Foothills Fieldhouse has chosen to limit it to one spectator per child.
“At this time, only one parent per player will be able to attend and watch their child participate in CMSA league games when scheduled at the Macron Performance Center,” reads a document on the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club website.
“We understand the frustration this can cause, but as we handle a post-COVID season, we want to ensure everyone’s safety to ensure we do not increase the spread of COVID-19 and cause
more interruptions in youth sports activities. “
According to the website, all viewers will be required to provide proof of vaccination, in the form of a QR code or hard copy, or proper documentation of a negative proof test within 72 hours or medical exemption.
Additional security will be available to help educate uncooperative bystanders.
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