The pitch was packed on Saturday in Bonnyville.
Over 700 young soccer players from six to twelve years old participated in the Mini Wetland Soccer Tournament, hosted by Bonnyville Soccer Association, and featured teams from as far as Sedgewick and Two Hills, plus Lac La Biche, Elk Point, Cold Lake, St. Paul, Vermilion, and Kehewin.
The U7, U9, and U11 teams there each got to play three games, enjoy a free hot dog and pop with their entry, and also work through a designated “skills station.”
Kidsport Bonnyville was also on hand doing a fundraiser shootout, where contestants spent $2 trying to kick five soccer balls through hula hoops and plastic bins.
“I think in 2019, we had over 500, and this year was over 700. So we had 200 more players signing up, which was so awesome,” said Laura Phillips, BSA Coaches Director.
“We haven’t had anything for a few years and we kind of thought, oh, maybe our numbers would be low. But it’s actually a record breaking year, which was really cool to see.”
Despite some disrupted seasons over the past couple of years, enrollment is up for minor soccer in town.
Over 100 games in total were played on the fields, located between Ecole des Beaux Lacs and Dr. Brosseau Schools.
Chase, a U11 player for Bonnyville thinks his team is pretty good this year and has enjoyed playing with the game with friends.
“We won all three of them and they were pretty good,” he said. When asked what his favourite aspects of the game are, he added, “How competitive it can get. It’s a really good sport to play and you can’t like push or anything, so that helps so you can’t get mad at players.”
It’s reaching the tail end of the soccer season for many of these players. There is two more weeks of practices scheduled, while some of the younger age groups will have games against Cold Lake, or be travelling to Edmonton for one final tournament.
For those in U13 and older, Lakeland Cup is fast approaching and is this weekend for U15 and U19 teams.
“We’ve just been excited to get the kids out on the field again,” said Phillips. It’s been a good season. And great coaches and managers and the Bonnyville soccer board just all putting work together to make the season go ahead. It’s been a good one.”