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Sask Selects looking to expand with new Yara Centre deal

The Sask Selects football program has inked a new three-year tenant agreement with the City of Moose Jaw
2019-01-29 Sask Selects MG
Zeljko Stefanovic, left, Mayor Fraser Tolmie and City Manager Jim Puffalt, right, pose with members of the Sask Selects football program after they signed a three-year tenant agreement with the City of Moose Jaw at the Yara Centre. (Matthew Gourlie photograph)

When Zeljko Stefanovic first saw the Yara Centre he knew it would be the perfect place for his sons to continue to refine their football skills in the cold prairie winter.

In their first year in 2012, 33 players practiced indoors a handful of times as the Sask Selects program was created. This year 205 players are playing on four teams. They will train together every two weeks before heading to San Antonio, Texas for a tournament in February.

"What started as a bunch of dads who wanted their kids to play football in the wintertime has sure morphed into something that never in a million years did we think would be possible here in Moose Jaw," said Stefanovic who founded the Sask Selects with his wife Deb Stefanovic and is the director of operations. 

Tuesday the Selects program signed a three-year tenant agreement with the City of Moose Jaw at the Yara Centre. The new deal runs until Nov. 14, 2021. The City has taken over the facility since the DFFH board of directors was dissolved in August.

"It's been a journey over the last seven years, but now we finally have a home and we can start planning and finalizing some of our plans and putting them to work," Stefanovic said. "Football in Saskatchewan is alive and well and a facility like this is going to help us make it better."

The end goal for the Selects program is to help better prepare players to compete at the collegiate level. Manitoba Selects teams have travelled to Moose Jaw the past two years and with a long-term agreement in place the Selects program is hoping to continue to expand. 

"That's what a program like this does, it allows us to make this place a destination where kids from all over Western Canada are going to come and train. I know there are naysayers are saying it's in the middle of nowhere, but you know what? If you have a program that people are interested in they will come here. And we've proven it. Every second weekend we have kids coming from Calgary, we have kids coming from north of La Ronge and all over the province," Stefanovic said.

It's not just the players, last weekend a group of coaches came up from California and were blown away by the quality of the facility in a smaller centre.

Stefanovic was in Calgary helping a group there that were looking to launch a similar program. The interest was there, but available facilities were not. 

"In a city like Calgary that you can't find a place like this to train is amazing to me. We're so blessed to have this in Moose Jaw," Stefanovic said. 

The new agreement will see the Selects using the facility more often and both parties are hoping that they will be able to use the facility more during "off-time" between during weekday daytime hours.

"It's not just the facility that benefits, but the whole community that benefits where a lot of people from across Saskatchewan are going to be coming and training here. We want Moose Jaw to be a centre of excellence," said Mayor Fraser Tolmie.

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