Do you ever have a dream that is so vivid you simply cannot shake it from your mind? A few months back, during some very restorative rapid eye movement, my dream entailed the very real possibility of transforming tennis courts into small sided soccer pitches.
Sorry thriving tennis community but you may not like my dream…
Have you ever wondered why there are so many tennis courts in Vancouver? I am curious how this happened? In all honesty, how many kids are out there playing tennis? Is tennis actually that popular of a sport? According to statistics Canada it’s really not.
Soccer is the sport of choice for Canadian boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 14. For many years it has ranked as the number one sport activity for children engaging regularly in sport. In 1998, 32% of boys and girls sport participants were playing soccer, compared to 44% in 2005 and 42% in 2010. What’s more, among the top ten sports, soccer is the only sport that showed an increase (0.8%) in the overall participation rate between 2005 and 2010. In fact, there were approximately 273,000 new soccer players in 2010. Participation in other sports decreased over this period.
So what does this mean? In short, Canadian children play a lot of soccer!
The question now is; where are we going to find all the space? Finding adequate fields across our country is a growing challenge.
Youth soccer is the most popular sport in Canada and people need to understand that finding a decent field can be a nightmare. @WillCromack and I recently struggled for weeks to line up a pitch. This is a challenge every volunteer coach regularly has in our country. It’s as if there are no available fields, anywhere.
So why not gentrify some of these tennis courts into small sided soccer pitches? I’m not over here saying all the tennis courts in Vancouver should be converted, just a few here and there. I have a funny suspicion these new pitches would get a lot of use, especially if there were funds acquired to lay some artificial turf. A boy can dream. But, just making some decent goals and starting to take down the tennis nets may be more realistic. Theoretically you would have no problem running small sided practices in these spaces. The kids would have FUN. These tennis courts are the perfect size for a small sided game.
I’m still scratching my head and wondering how there are so many tennis courts in the city? They are quite honestly everywhere. Even if 20% of the local tennis courts were turned into small sided soccer pitches it would make a huge difference. This would be a solution to our lack of soccer facilities. It could also be a solution to @Russcher suggestion for free and unstructured soccer play.
Tennis as a sport is on the decline. Conversely, soccer is on the rise. Maybe now is a good time to start this conversation.
I hope all my readers understand that I am using ‘tennis courts’ as a metaphor. I don’t really believe that our local municipalities will go for my idea, or the tennis community for that matter. But a boy can dream. What I do want though is to strike a debate regarding a more important issue, which is the lack of soccer fields in our country.
So my question to all of you is what are some reasonable solutions?
The Play Better program has solutions to these problems and my next week’s blog will be centered on this dialog.