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On the Pitch - Soccer professionals gear up for summer at Shell Place

May 1st, 2015

By Dawn Booth

FC Edmonton is busily preparing to bring our local soccer community to the SMS Equipment Stadium at Shell Place for a historic opportunity starting in June.

In highlight with Wood Buffalo’s sports-themed summer, FC Edmonton’s team will be playing at the state-of-the-art stadium and be among the first to step foot on the pitch with thousands of other professional sports players and residents.

Shell Place will be hosting its grand opening with the Northern Kickoff on June 13, 2015. And the stadium is expected to be flooded with Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders fans for the official Canadian Football League pre-season home game.

Then exactly one week later, FC Edmonton will start taking over the field with three major events; including one big community soccer celebration – the June 20 Family Soccer Fest; and two summer soccer matches.

The June 20 Family Soccer Fest is first on the scheduled FC Edmonton lineup and its organizers hope to bring the entire community out to celebrate in fun soccer affiliated events. Attendees will receive corporate partner giveaways and have the chance to enter to win prizes throughout the day. (More updated information can be found at www.fcedmonton.com or through Fort McMurray’s Harvard Broadcasting stations: MIX 103.7 FM and 100.5 CRUZ FM.)

The matches start with the first-ever professional soccer game in Fort McMurray history – The Wood Buffalo Cup – with FC Soccer vs. San Antonio Scorpions on July 5, 2015 and The Canadian Rivalry game will be followed on August 2, 2015 with FC Edmonton vs. Ottawa Fury FC.

“This is a real exciting time for FC Edmonton and MacDonald Island with such a fantastic stadium in place. This could really be the tip of the iceberg (for future events),” said FC Edmonton Head Coach Colin Miller. “We at FC Edmonton are very excited to come up to Fort McMurray this summer.”

Coach Miller shares how the partnership with MacDonald Island Park is prosperous for the future of our young athletes and soccer sports fans at-large.

“Working with the youth, providing professional soccer and giving young soccer players role models can plant some real positive seeds for the future,” he said. “The local soccer community and fans are going to see some really exciting soccer and hopefully we can provide the people of Wood Buffalo a new team to support.”

FC Edmonton’s Media and Public Relation representative Jill Horbay further shared there are plans to bring the Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association’s (FMYSA) year-end festivities to the stadium.

In the past, the FMYSA wraps up their youth season with a BBQ, free play sessions and award distribution to the athletes on fields throughout the city. This year, they’ll receive world-class treatment at the world-class facility.

“Families with children in the association will be able to watch their young athletes take part in the year-end activities on the field and inside the brand new stadium,” Horbay boasted. “We’ll have family engagement activations set-up outside of the stadium and FC Edmonton will have a few players in attendance to meet with residents and sign autographs. Harvard Broadcasting will also present a Ball Retriever contest on the field in the SMS Equipment Stadium.”

Teaming opportunities with the FMYSA have been a success since the Canadian professional soccer clubannounced the launch of the FC Edmonton Youth Soccer Clinic in the fall of 2013.

In correlation with their long-term partnership with the MacDonald Island Park Corporation, FC Edmonton has been providing the youth of the Wood Buffalo region with one-of-a-kind opportunities by hosting clinics with soccer professionals during their late off-season.

The clinics allow players, Under 4 (U4) through to U16, the chance to learn from FC Edmonton coaches and players in one-on-on skill development sessions. Its main goal is to instill skills and leadership on to young athletes.

“The coaches run various skill sessions with as much player participation as possible,” Horbay said. “The most important aspect is getting young players comfortable with the ball. We want the clinics to be in a fun learning and challenging environment that makes all of the participants feel good about their soccer skills at the end.”

The clinics have been a success as returning youth players came back for a second year, after attending the program launch in the beginning of 2014. Coach Miller shares how he enjoys seeing the excitement first-hand.

“I think the beauty of it is, that a number of the participants that were in the clinics in January had been to previous FC Edmonton clinics,” he said. “They enjoyed it so much and found it challenging enough that they wanted to come back. That was by far the most positive thing to hear and see from the parents and kids.”

Coach Miller further explains how the youth gain high-performance experiences and instructions from the clinics that will help them in their future athletic career.

“First of all the quality of the coaching, whether it’s with John Clubb of the Alberta Soccer Association or with us, the kids see a certain quality and experience that comes from working with professional coaches and what it’s like in that environment,” Miller said. “The earlier we can start working with these athletes on a professional basis, the better they will be.”

With two seasons of clinics already established at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre at MacDonald Island Park, FC Edmonton will be branching out opportunities in the future to more residents in the region by providing clinics to Anzac and Fort McKay.

“We hope that the support we’ve had in the clinic carries over into support for FC Edmonton for fans to buy tickets and come out to our matches,” Colin adds. “It will be great home away from home matches for us and we’re looking forward to it.”

Tickets for the upcoming events can be purchased online at www.fcedmonton.com/fort-mcmurray-tickets. Keep up-to-date with registration openings on the MacDonald Island Park website at www.macdonaldisland.ca/programs and learn more about FC Edmonton by visiting their website.

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