Players from across Canada will be battling it out in the beautiful game for the coveted Calgary Cup this weekend.
Calgary Minor Soccer Association’s annual tournament is returning after a three-year delay due to the pandemic. Taking to a trio of fields will be over 4,000 players aged 10 through 17, representing teams from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get back on the field and welcome some out of town competition,” said CMSA executive director Carlo Bruneau.
“It’s a great, great opportunity for the Calgary soccer community to come together again, to wrap up in a fantastic competition, and get things back on track where we are where we were previously in 2019,” he said.
Uptake nationally for the tournament has been tremendous for CMSA. More teams and players signed up this year, than in any other year that the tournament has been run. Something that Bruneau said raises the level of competition for all players.
“That’s a good sign that that people are feeling confident to be able to travel, willing to travel, and wanting to play some new competition,” he said.
“I think that an important element of any kind of tournament is playing teams that you don’t normally get to play against, and being able to see where you measure up.”
Building the beautiful sport
And from that high level of play, the Calgary Minor Soccer Association is hoping that players get experiences from the tournament that build a lifetime of enjoyment for the sport. The association pointed to a previous event several weeks prior to the tournament where local girls were able to train with Olympian Stephanie Labbé.
“It’s special moments like this, that we continue to put on our radar, that are really going to really give players and coaches and families and referees an extra extra bonus to playing in the beautiful game,” said Bruneau.
The tournament is being held at Shouldice Athletic Park, The Calgary Soccer Centre, and the Calgary West Soccer Centre. A full schedule is available on the CMSA website.
The association is inviting the public to attend the games. The Calgary West games are being played indoors if spectators want to get out of the heat and and into air conditioning.
Heat protocols and high level of support in place for games
Bruneau said that they’re taking player and official safety seriously this weekend due to the heat wave. Games have been reduced in length to 30 minute halves, and there will be plenty of water and shade breaks.
“We do have heat protocols that each of the officials and then the on site staff will be versed in,” he said.
Bruneau said that they have been able to avoid the shortage of referees that they’ve seen throughout the season, something that has plagued many different sport associations in the city.
“There is no doubt there is a pinch in in referees—we’re all feeling the pinch of of a shortage here,” he said.
“We should be good for this for this tournament, but we need to continue to focus and emphasize on referee recruitment and referee retention. And importantly, to make sure that long term we’re set up to support the growth of the game.”
Still, said Bruneau, they’ve had high buy in from officials and volunteers to put on a logistically complicated tournament for their players.
“It’s challenging, no doubt, but we do have very talented and dedicated staff who are motivated by creating those memorable moments for our community,” he said.
“So certainly a lot of thanks to our staff, the volunteers, and of course the referees and the coaches and players who participated in the tournament. It’s all a collective effort.”