The autumn chill is definitely in the Kootenay air and that can only mean one thing: Soccer is getting set to move indoors.
Six years ago Soccer Quest moved to Nelson with the promise to bolster enthusiasm for the sport in an already solid soccer community. When the indoor season opens on October 15, the packed programs and constant thud, thud, thud of kicked soccer balls will confirm that it’s mission accomplished.
“Our goal is to make sure this facility is full and it looks like we are on our way this year,” said Soccer Quest owner Dave Spendlove.
When the Nelson and District Community Complex was completed in the early 2000s, the need for what was then a small secondary ice hockey rink was no longer required. The building was in disrepair and the City of Nelson was exploring options for the building. The idea of even knocking the old rink down was even floated.
At that same time, Spendlove was working with BC Soccer and stopped into Nelson to do a coaching clinic. He was approached about the idea of turning the old kid’s rink into an indoor soccer facility.
Spendlove had a long history in the sport and helped open Canada’s first indoor soccer facilities with 13 other partners in Etobicoke, Ontario. For several years the Spendlove was part of many other indoor facilities springing up across the country.
Spendlove met with former Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce manager Roy Heuckendorff who was a strong advocate for sport. After several meetings and presentations to the City, Soccer Quest was given the green light to redevelop the old rink.
“Nelson actually chose me,” Spendlove smiles.
“I always felt that the Kootenays was an ignored community in the Canadian soccer world. I knew there would be interest once we got it going. When I saw that there were 1,000 kids playing youth soccer in a community of this size, if you do it on a per capita basis that would make this one of the biggest clubs in Canada. I knew the numbers were good and it would work.”
Since its first season six years ago, Soccer Quest has built momentum for the facility by adding new programs every year. It started with the kids, but then a men’s recreational league was added, followed by a ladies league, a co-ed league, rep development for youth and this season the Whitecaps FC program will take be camped in the dryness of the indoor facility.
One test of the facility’s success is the success youth teams have shown over the last few years. Nelson Youth Soccer rep teams are the powerhouse association in this part of British Columbia and it’s no surprise the rise started a few years back.
“It’s because of the facility, but it wouldn’t be possible without the quality level of coaching the kids are getting,” said Spendlove, who moved to Canada from Liverpool in 1979. “We spend a lot of money bringing in good coaches. The better the coaching, the better the program and the better the players will become.”
Like any sport, what players put in is what they get out. Having an outlet in the winter allows young players and old to get their fill of soccer.
“Obviously the more you practice the better you are going to be,” said Spendlove. “With an indoor facility it gives you the chance for the kids to kick a ball around. Whether they want to do it in a high level training scenario or whether they just want to play a game… we give the kids both options.”
Soccer Quest is still taking registration for a wide variety of programming for both youth and adults. For more information on the programs head to soccerquest.ca.