It won’t be long before Winnipeggers have a brand-new place to indulge in their love of the beautiful game.
On May 7, the provincial government, the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Soccer Federation announced a $20.55 million-expansion of the Garden City Community Centre, which includes a 120,000 square foot indoor soccer pitch that can be split into four smaller fields.
Canadian women’s national team player Desiree Scott, who grew up in West Kildonan, attended the announcement. The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist was back in town for the women’s soccer friendly versus the U.S. on May 8 at Investors Group Field.
"These are my old stomping grounds so it’s amazing to see we have a high performance facility being built and I’m excited to see it once it’s all done," Scott said.
"I think it will motivate kids to come out and get that physical activity in and start playing soccer on those fields. When you have such a beautiful facility, it makes you want to play and makes you excited to play."
The province is putting $8.15 million into the project, with the city paying $7 million and the Winnipeg Soccer Federation contributing $5.4 million.
Construction on the expansion, which also includes an outdoor fully lit synthetic turf field, will begin this fall and should be completed for the 2015 indoor soccer season.
Scott said she can’t wait to set foot on the new pitch.
"Winnipeg is home for me. When I’m not training with the national team, I come back home. Instead of driving out to the university, I can drive five minutes and come here," Scott said.
The new outdoor field will be used as one of the training fields for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
"When combined with the great spectator facility at Investors Group Field, it’s clear Winnipeg is committed to growing the game, enhancing the experience and attracting top-calibre events to go with the great soccer legacy in this community," said Don Hardman, chief stadia officer and vice-president of venues of FIFA Women’s World Cup national organizing committee.
Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities Kevin Chief said the expansion is good news for youth in north Winnipeg and throughout the city.
"They will be able to get a sense of belonging, and we’ve always said if you don’t give young people something positive to belong to, someone will seek them out and get them involved in something negative," Chief said.
The new soccer complex is yet to be named, although Scott was asked about the potential of naming the new facilities after her.
"That would be an honour. I would be speechless if that did happen," Scott said.