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YaraCentre providing new opportunities for local soccer players

The Moose Jaw Soccer Association signed a three-year tenant agreement for the YaraCentre with the City of Moose Jaw
2019-01-31 Yara Centre MJSA deal MG
Mayor Fraser Tolmie and Jordan Jeffrey, technical director for the Moose Jaw Soccer Association, front and centre, pose with MJSA players and staff along with George Pohorelic, Yara Belle Plaine Plant Manager, left, and City Manager Jim Puffalt, second from back left. (Matthew Gourlie photograph)

The beautiful game will have a beautiful home for the next three years.

The Moose Jaw Soccer Association signed a three-year tenant agreement for the YaraCentre with the City of Moose Jaw. The MJSA has two new initiatives this season and are excited about the possibilities having a full-sized indoor soccer pitch can offer them.

"It's another step towards this becoming our forever home," said Jordan Jeffrey, technical director for the Moose Jaw Soccer Association. "It's a facility that, obviously, we were a big part of the formation and building of as well. We want to make sure we stay here for as long as possible. It's another victory for us in terms of being able to keep delivering elite programming without having to step back into the gym format of soccer which is really a big, big benefit for us. We can continue to host our provincial events here and develop our local athletes and provincial athletes too."

The MJSA has partnered with the academy of Major League Soccer's Vancouver Whitecaps to launch a Whitecaps FC Academy Centre this past August. The program is open to boys and girls from the under-8 to the under-18 age groups.

The academy trains out of the YaraCentre and began with three 60-minute sessions taking place over eight weekends from November to January. For phase two, there will be 60-minute training sessions for the youngest age group, while the two older blocks will train for 90 minutes. That eight-week block of training will begin on March 3 and run until May 5.

The MJSA has also hosted a provincial league that draws clubs to the city for a slate of matches over a weekend.

"Once a month we have teams from all over the province come in. We play 9v9 half-field games inside the Yara here. We've done two weekends already and had a lot of success," Jeffrey said. 

The program features U15 boys and girls matches and then U17/19 boys and girls that are combined.

"We have a team from Alberta in the boys division for the U15s," Jeffrey said. "Bonnyville come down for that one. So it's a long trek, but they want to be a part of the program this year, which is awesome for us. It's a different level of athlete and a different style of athlete for our players to go up against."

Jeffrey feels that new program shows the potential of Moose Jaw as a market and the YaraCentre as a destination.

"I think maybe in the past as an organization we haven't necessarily marketed the facility well enough," he said. "You come to Moose Jaw and not only does Moose Jaw have some good players and some good teams to play against you, but you have an awesome facility to come in here and play in. We know how hard it is for smaller communities... to get into an actual soccer facility. We can bring those teams in here, we can all compete, we can learn together and play against each other and have some fun."

Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie remarked that soccer is the most played sport by Canadian youth under-16. He wants to not only see opportunities for boys and girls to reach their potential, but believes that elite-level sports will also help young people be better future leaders in the community.

"I'm passionate about building a strong and healthy community, but also building strong future leaders out of this community," Tolmie said. "We want these facilities used. That's why they were built. We need to go out to the people and create programs that they are going to be interested in.

"The Moose Jaw Soccer Association played an integral role in the funding initiative to build YaraCentre and we are excited that we can continue to work in partnership with the them."

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