Ponoka resident Lonny Behm, rural director at large for the Alberta Soccer Association (ASA), who is also part of the technical team for the Central Alberta Soccer Association (CASA), wants people to know about the opportunities offered by the new multi-sport indoor training facility in Red Deer County, The Dome.
“It offers so much with coaches and professionals, not just for parents,” said Behm, adding he hasn’t seen many people from rural areas utilizing the facility yet.
“Where are the rural kids? They need to be here.”
Behm served as vice president of the Ponoka Minor Soccer Association (PMSA) and was nominated last spring for a board position with ASA. He had to step down from PMSA board but remains as as advisor for coach and player development.
The PMSA’s U-11 team trains at The Dome and a handful of players on their four competitive teams train at the West Canada Soccer Academy out of The Dome with world-class coach Jason Blake.
“He’s one of the highest credentialed coaches in Canada right now,” said Rob McArthur, president of PMSA.
Blake has coached all over the globe including in England and China, and now lives in Ponoka.
“We’re trying to get as many of our kids out to Jason as possible because honestly he’s the best,” said McArthur.
Former American hockey Olympian Noah Welch, a Red Deer resident, is behind the creation of the facility.
The Dome serves all of central Alberta and includes a soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse, fast pitch academies and more.
The facility, located in Gasoline Alley, offers camps, clinics and programs year-round, including full-day camps on school professional development days, and focuses on off-season skill development for non-winter sport athletes.
“It’s actually very, very cool … it’s world-class and we’re a part of it,” he said, adding The Dome may not be in Ponoka, but it is right in Ponoka’s “back yard.”
PMSA has tried to take advantage of the dome, as without a field house in Ponoka, and gym space can be hard to come by and limiting within the space, the U-11 competitive team currently plays 99 per cent of its games in Camrose.
McArthur says that he understands with the current economy and lack of government funding that a field house in Ponoka may be a long way off, but says if Ponoka ever got a facility of its own, the PMSA would “take full advantage.”
If the PMSA teams had a facility here to train at instead of having to go to Red Deer of Camrose, McArthur says “we’d be at the top of the field all the time.”