Minor soccer continues to surge in Calgary
Calgary's minor soccer boom continues this year as the number of teams in the city approaches 900.
The Calgary Minor Soccer Association said it's seen a spike in sign-ups. Carlo Bruno, the organization's executive director, says the game continues its era of popularity.
"The enthusiasm in the sport has never been higher," he said.
This year saw sign-ups jump 18 per cent higher than 2022. There are now 892 teams participating in soccer in the city this summer.
Many factors are thought to be behind the jump in numbers. These include the sport's relative affordability, the popularity of the city's Cavalry team, and the new Canadian women's professional soccer league.
There's also Canada's recent return to the World Cup.
"The World Cup effect, Canada finally making a world cup, the men pulling their weight and qualifying on the international stage, and doing quite well," Bruno said. "Of course, Canada will be hosting the World Cup in 2026, so that's going to help as well."
Some of the first games of the outdoor soccer season got underway this weekend. Parents were on the sidelines Saturday cheering on players.
Todd Davis heard that in his son's league, teams have doubled. He says he can see the appeal.
"It's relatively inexpensive. You can play anywhere. You just need a ball and a couple friends," he said.
Jacklyn Breen says her kids have been enrolled since they could walk.
"It keeps the family focused toward a schedule and goals," she said. "It keeps kids away from unhealthy distractions like too much screen time and hanging out at 7-Eleven."
Lack of indoor facilities
While more interest is always a good thing, Bruno said that the city's infrastructure needs to keep up.
"Our challenges really are facilities," Bruno said. "As we continue to grow, the per capita facilities declines, so we need to continue to invest in quality facilities to support the growth of the game."
Specifically, he said, Calgary lacks enough indoor facilities as the demand for indoor sports space has risen in recent years.
More indoor facilities, Bruno said, would help bring more consistency to the game for both players and coaches, as games wouldn't need to be modified to fit smaller spaces in winter.
Depending on the tier of play, the outdoor soccer season in Calgary varies, although some teams will be on the pitch until the end of September.