If you build it, they will come.
And for the brand new turf field, they did come and a little earlier than expected.
Local teams got the opportunity to try out the new field after the District of Squamish (DOS) announced a “soft opening” for the new facility on Friday (Oct. 26). Teams hit the turf bright and early on Saturday (Oct. 27) and the feedback from soccer players was positive.
“I like it a lot,” said Charles Wetaski of the U15 Squamish Strikers. “There’s no ruts or holes and no giant puddles like we get on the grass.”
His teammate Erik Heilig concurred.
“It’s so much better than what we’re used to,” he said. “The ball rolls really smoothly and it’s really fast out there for everyone.”
The Strikers hosted a team from Burnaby and were officially the first travel team to play on the turf. Earlier in the morning, two local U14 house teams competed on the field and have local bragging rights as the first teams to experience the new turf.
Strikers team manager Mike Rukus said his team was thrilled to get a chance to be one of the first on the field.
“I got an email last night and to be the first travel team on the field is fantastic,” he said, noting that his players were pumped to try it out. “It’s an awesome field and so much better than what we had.”
Katrina Doherty, president of the Squamish Youth Soccer Association (SYSA), was beaming with pride as she watched from the sidelines.
“It’s just an absolutely beautiful field,” she said. “This is now the crown jewel of our local sporting scene and we really appreciate all the hard work that has been done by everyone associated with making this a reality.”
Doherty said that she received notice from DOS officials at 5 p.m. on Friday that the field was going to be in play.
“Tim Hoskin told me it was open and I thought now I have to figure out who’s playing here,” she said, laughing.
Praise for the fields continued on Sunday (Oct. 28), when among others, the Squamish Breakers hosted a team from North Vancouver in women’s over-30 league action.
“It’s just an awesome and beautiful field,” said Pat McDowell of the Breakers. “It’s so much easier on our knees and back.”
McDowell said the team was overjoyed to play on the turf as opposed to the gravel all-weather fields that they’re used to.
“Everyone’s loving it,” she said. “I heard a lot of ‘yay’s’ from the team when we found out we were going to play here last night.”
Tanya Babuin of the Squamish Soccer Association said it’s an exciting and emotional time for local soccer players and that she very much appreciates the hard work by maintenance workers to get the field ready.
“Tanya really needs kudos for making this field a reality,” Doherty said. “But we do have new rules to do with this field. We need to preserve it and take care of it because it’s something we’ve all worked hard for.”
It’s unclear when the official opening for the turf field will occur, with several SYSA and SSA representatives saying it could potentially take place sometime later this month.