The massive damage from flooding at Optimist Park is causing issues not just for local youth soccer teams, but also for the Brandon University Bobcats and Assiniboine Community College Cougars.
The two schools have been forced to find new places as they prepare for the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference soccer season, which start in September. BU is still searching for a place to play games, while ACC is looking for places to practise.
BU athletic director Russ Paddock said the new Bobcat teams will practise at J.R. Reid School, but he will be talking to groups that maintain the few replacement field options in the city soon to find a place to play games.
While Paddock admits it’s not the best situation to start up BU’s soccer program, he knows the Bobcats are just one organization feeling the pinch from the flood.
“It goes with the entire soccer community with the level of frustration they have,” he said. “We’re just getting started. We empathize with how they’ve been feeling all along and we’ll have to find a solution for this first year.”
The Bobcats will host their first tryouts in August, with their season-opener scheduled for Sept. 13 in the Wheat City.
The Cougars, meanwhile, will play their home games at Christian Heritage School, which is where the Brandon Pizza Express Inspire play their Manitoba Major Soccer League contests. Bo Kampmann, who coaches ACC’s men’s team, looks after that field and the college secured it for its games.
However, ACC athletics manager Beth Clark said the Cougars men’s and women’s teams are still looking for places to practise, beginning in late August. While she understands the situation, she wishes games could be played at the Optimist complex.
“It would be nice to have Optimist because it’s an ideal situation for ACC, in particular,” Clark said. “You can at least view the north hill from there and it’s in-between the two campuses and it’s got sufficient parking and it’s on an artery of Brandon, so we get some exposure to the community there. You’ve got to deal with the situation and that’s meant putting in a contingency plan and that plan is to go to Christian Heritage.”
Cougars tryouts start in August. They’ll open the season on the road Sept. 13, with their first home games set for Sept. 20.
Meanwhile, Paddock and his staff are still working on their application for BU to host the 2016 Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s volleyball championship. The Bobcats have applied for the accommodation tax grant from the City of Brandon for the event and will likely go in front of city council in August. The bid is due on Sept. 5.