It’s been years in the making, but starting today (Friday) the time has finally come for the Matsqui Recreation Centre (MRC) fields to be officially opened.
In total, three new turf fields will be available for users in central Abbotsford: one on city land behind MRC, and two on school district land at Colleen and Gordie Howe middle school and W. J. Mouat secondary school.
For Dan Village, the general manager of the Abbotsford Magnuson Soccer Club and the Abbotsford Soccer Association (ASA), the fields are going to be a welcome addition to a growing sport.
“I’ve been around a long time here and to see this finally happen is a great thing,” he said. “It’s three more fields we can use all year round, and it makes a world of difference for the sport in Abbotsford.”
Village said the new fields give sports groups much more flexibility, and give Abbotsford the chance to run more tournaments.
“We can run and book bigger tournaments without having to worry about closing fields down because of weather,” he said. “And it’s going to be a huge benefit for local players. Aside from the two groups I run, there are also co-ed, men’s, women’s, church and other groups that can always use more field time. We can run winter programs into the night now with all the lighting.”
He said registration for youth spring league soccer with the new fields is already at 600, which is equal to last year’s numbers, and could reach 700 in a week.
The fields will also be used as the soccer headquarters for the BC Summer Games in July. Village, who is the sport chair for soccer at the Games, said the MRC fields will be a great showcase for Abbotsford.
Village said it’s about being able to manage and satisfy many different user groups, and more fields will make it easier.
“There are so many soccer entities in this community so to add three quality fields into the community will help alleviate some of the pressure that the city feels during booking,” he said.
He said the early feedback has been positive, and also pointed out that there are three mini-fields within the new fields that will help train younger kids. The ASA is expected to have more than 1,100 youth players hit the pitch in the fall. The fields will only be closed in the case of snow.
“This is a great thing for the community and the sport of soccer in Abbotsford,” Village said.
The fields, located off Maclure Road and Mouat Drive, officially open today at 1 p.m., with Mayor Henry Braun, city council and representatives from the Abbotsford school district on hand. Local sports teams, athletic clubs and school bands are also all expected to be on hand for the opening.
Parking is available on the west side of fields by Matsqui Rec Centre. Organizers ask that those attending do not park in the Howe school parking area.