Skip to main content

Soccer seeing surge in popularity in Sudbury


Canada's pastime, is starting to look a little different, if the Lancer Dome in New Sudbury is any indication.

It was not even 10 a.m. yet on a Saturday and already the parking lot was already filling up. The Greater Sudbury Soccer Club says it's seeing a surge in registration.

"We're growing, we can't believe the growth we're having right now," said club president Joe Snofl.

"I'm busy coaching, I love coaching but I have a lot of other things to do right now too so I was looking for more help, but we have an incredible team that are keep players and teams engaged."

Snofl, who is also an educator, said they could fill another dome with the interest they've seen in registering for the sport.

"I think people are still getting used to playing soccer year-round," he said.

"We have waiting lists for players, in the summer for our younger groups, we had to create more space for them. We needed more coaches, we had to find some money in the budget to pay for younger coaches in their teens and 20s, to help out. It's unbelievable. We are managing it, we're stepping up in large quantities to help up and that's parents putting on t-shirts, to monitor and supervise kids, every little bit helps."

As parents arrived at the dome, fully-dressed, parents trailing behind with coffees in-hand, it's become apparent that for many, this has become the new norm.

Bruce Doran signed up his daughter Penny, who just loves a chance to be out on the field with her friends.

"I think things have been going great, the popularity once restrictions started lifting just shot up. Penny was registered for summer soccer and oh my goodness, the number of kids that registered, the number of teams that wanted to participate, it's not surprising. We've been sitting on our hands for the last two and half years," said Doran.

"In the case of Penny, she loves to move, wanted to interact with others and she loves the game," he added. "That's really what it is, and she really just loves to go on the field and interact with other kids and kick the ball around … it's just to have fun, that's really what it's all about."

While the club knows much of the surge it's seeing is likely due to pandemic restrictions being lifted, another major part likely has something to do with the success of Canada's national teams.

Canada will be competing next month in Qatar in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, while the women's team has also been looking to reach new heights ahead of next week's 2023 World Cup draw.

Nigel Croome is originally from England, so a love of soccer is nothing new to him.

He's been coaching Sudbury teams for the last eight years and he is also a parent.

"The pandemic was just more of a pause because the momentum was really there, the Canadian Women's Team is doing really well, the Canadian Men's Team is going to the World Cup, there's a buzz about soccer right now," he said.

"A lot of our Canadian soccer players are playing in big teams all over the world so yeah, there's actually world class players out there."

As a child, Croome said most of his idols as a child were on English or Brazilian teams.

"I think that was the same here, with a lot of backgrounds and cultures in Canada, they were going back to their home countries if you like, or the countries of their parents, grandparents and now there's actually idols that are Canadian. There's Canadian posters on their walls, these guys are Canadian-born, second-generation or whatever, so Canadian kids now have Canadian soccer players that are world-class so it's something to look up to or emulate," he added.

His son London, plays soccer and goes to St. Benedict's High School in the city's south-end.

"There's a bunch of celebrities doing it, they're all over the internet, you just watch them and yeah," London said.

"Everyone in my house plays soccer, my dad loves watching it; yeah it's a big deal. It's pretty cool to have your own country in the World Cup, it's better than nothing. A lot of my friends that go to St. Ben's, I met them playing soccer and we have a really good team."

For now, this surge in numbers for soccer is expected to continue.

"When we started we were a small club, but registrations are through the roof," said Nigel.

"Most of the outdoor fields in Sudbury are full, from the U-5's all the way up to the U-21s and it's pretty impressive to see."

"We're hopefully, with COVID we don't know yet, we're going to be able to watch it together some way, some how, whether it's virtually too. We try as a club about getting players not only excited about playing the game, but learning about the game. What I would like to see is maybe kids watching this and saying 'hey maybe that could be me," said Snofl. Top Stories

Stay Connected