The Gold Pan city has something else to brag about.
Known mainly for forestry, goldmining and Billy Barker, Quesnel unveiled another valued gem Saturday.
It’s the state-of-the-art Indoor Sports Centre, new home of Quesnel Youth Soccer Association.
The $3 million facility includes 11 outdoor pitches with natural grass and a two-thirds of a full size soccer pitch inside.
The turf is the same stuff used by Vancouver Whitecaps and that covers Manchester United’s practice field. Vancouver Whitecaps director of soccer operations and upon viewing it for the first time on the weekend, Canadian soccer legend Bob Lenarduzzi called it the best facility in B.C. Steve Reed, B.C. Soccer Association’s vice-president of finance, added it was one of the best in North America.
Those are heavy-duty complements. Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada and the most popular in the world.
In Quesnel, 1,400 youth on average have kicked around the ball in spring, summer and fall leagues since QYSA launched 28 years ago.
The idea to build a high-end facility was hatched in 2002 with an original budget of $8 million. That was decreased to $3 million a year later. The City chipped in $1 million and the province topped it up with $2 million.
An anonymous donor added $100,000; Canfor put in $60,000, while the Gurnek Singh Sull and family chipped in $50,000.
Contractors worked for way less than their value and volunteers donated their time. Now that’s community spirit.
Quesnel now has a northern jewel that will be envied like no other.
We can develop soccer at the grassroots year-round instead of waiting for the annual spring thaw.
It may also be used for football and lacrosse. And we can develop healthy, fit youth and adults.
But more than that, soccer, like every other sport, builds self-esteem and promotes teamwork. Not bad life skills at all.
Take a bow Quesnel, you deserve it.