By Zachary Flynn

NAIT has decided to host both the men’s and women’s provincial soccer championships at The Emerald Hills Regional Park, running the two tournaments at the same time. The championship tournaments will run from October 25-27.

Traditionally, the men’s and women’s provincials had been held at different locations, but last year, SAIT decided to host both simultaneously as a pilot project.

“And us, being NAIT, said we have to do this as good or better, so we put a bid in,” said Jordan Richey, Manager of Athletics at NAIT.

Usually, a provincial tournament would consist of two games per day, running Friday-through-Sunday. With both tournaments being hosted on the same field at the same time, four games will be played each day on the field. Richey said that although it makes for a busy schedule, feedback from last year’s tournament suggested it was worth it. He said it helps schools save money by sending all their athletes to one location rather than two, and that the athletes preferred having one larger event at a single location.

The games will be played on the FIFA II certified field. While the CCAA national championships must be played on turf, the ACAC doesn’t dictate whether or not their championships are to be played on natural grass or turf.

With the Ooks’ national qualifying record, Richey says it’s good practice for the Ooks to play on turf.

“The fact that we’re hosting this year’s championships and doing our final two games on a turf field are going to prepare them for nationals should they qualify.”
NAIT explored the option of hosting the provincial tournament here in the city, but they weren’t able to book out a field for three days straight.

“It’s strictly availability,” said Richey. “The city booking system wouldn’t allow us to book for what we needed for the championship because the priority for Clarke Stadium goes toward the Eskimos and FC Edmonton.

Emerald Hills, while it may be an extra 6-minute drive, has been host to the provincial championships in the past.

“Two years ago we hosted the men’s championship there and it was phenomenal… probably one of the best soccer championships we’ve ever seen just because their facilities are world-class,” said Richey.

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