Mini-soccer kicks off at Pople Park

Frantic action filled Pople Park on Tuesday as over 100 mini-soccer players from Trail Youth Soccer kicked off the soccer season.

Trail’s Pople Park was overrun by young soccer players Tuesday, as Trail Youth Soccer kicked off another fun, if not frenetic, season.

More than 200 parents and their young soccer minions descended on Pople Park for the opening day of soccer practice in what could best be described as an exercise in organized chaos.

With over 100 kids buzzing about and soccer balls whizzing this-way-and-that, utter confusion was somehow abated by the patient shouts and whistles of the volunteer parent-coaches as they ran the young players through two one hour practices and mini-matches on five modified fields.

For Trail Youth Soccer director, Chantal Filion, the task of organizing so many youngsters into 20 cohesive units can be challenging and starts long before the kids hit the field.

“We need to organize teams, coaches, lining the fields, so I have Mark Buckley who has it all surveyed, so he helps me and surveys the field, and getting the equipment ready, and ordering the shirts,” said Filion. “And yesterday, on my birthday, I had to pump up 100 soccer balls.”

The numbers for mini soccer and the Kootenay South Youth Soccer Association (KSYSA) continue to grow as 178  players from age 5 to 10 registered for mini soccer, approximately 250 for 11-18 Youth, and 1,150 altogether in the KSYSA that covers Greater Trail and Castlegar.

“That’s a lot,” said KSYSA director Sid Compston. “This is the most I’ve ever seen here (at Pople). When I think about it, when my son was U11, and he’s now going to be 24, we ended up with 78 kids playing, now there’s 100 more and the (Trail) population is shrinking.”

Mini-soccer now boasts 10 U8 teams, six U6 teams, and four U10 teams, and if not for lack of availability could likely run four nights at the park.

“Our registration is up,” said Filion. “We had so many numbers, we had to move our U8s to the U10 time because we didn’t have enough fields.”

Youth soccer depends largely on parents to volunteer as coaches and despite the increase in numbers, Filion says that with a little guidance from KSYSA, parents have stepped up and filled any coaching voids.

“This is our best year, I’d say, for coaching,” said Filion, who has been organizing mini soccer for three years. “We have a lot of people that are volunteering. We did do something a little different this year, we provided a little package, a binder, with lesson plans for each day, because we found that a lot of parents, that was what they struggled with, they didn’t know what to do.”

The guide outlines drills and strategies for each practice, and includes rules, policies, and guidelines for coaches and players.

Keeping the coaches knowledgeable and happy isn’t a bad policy either, and something that will only benefit the kids and future volunteers – an important reason why interest in soccer continues to grow in Trail.

“If it wasn’t for volunteers like Chantal and her dedication over the last few years this wouldn’t be happening,” said Compston. “She’s the coordinator-director and she’s found people to help out, like she has every year, she’s on top of it . . . There is some organized chaos to it, but she’s found volunteers to help her through that.”

Pople Park is home to mini soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. for U6 and U8 and 6-7 p.m. for U8 and U10, which play at Pople’s parks from now until the end of June.