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Edmonton soccer organizations call on city to help build proper indoor facilities

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The real goal for Ross Ongaro is to have more soccer fields in Edmonton.

Ongaro, the technical coordinator for the Internazionale Soccer Club of Edmonton and a fixture on the city's soccer scene since the 1970s, says there are more players in the city than available space in the winter.

"We're either changing the game that we have to play or telling people they cannot play, and that's just not right," Ongaro told CTV News Edmonton on Sunday.

Indoor soccer fields at the FC Viktoria Soccer Centre in the city's northwest can't hold a standard 11-on-11 match, minimizing time and skills learned on the field.

Same goes for the other two large-field options at the Edmonton Scottish Society's dome on the south side and the dome that covers the University of Alberta's Foote Field.

"The fact that they love the sport is fantastic, but we're not developing our players the way we should be and playing the same sport like every other sport does," Ongano said of the effect of smaller pitches and relatively few indoor winter options.

The Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) puts 20,000 players outside each year but can accommodate just half that number in the winter.

"It's a big need," said Mario Charpentier, the president of EMSA.

"It's a need, not a luxury, just to have a nice building."

The non-profit EMSA would need $15-20 million to build a proper facility.

It's a cry EMSA and Inter SC have been yelling from the bleachers for years, especially as Edmonton's population grows.

"All our immigrants know soccer, and our fields and our rosters are getting so full," Ongaro said.

The City of Edmonton, which is currently working on guidelines for such facilities, says it has explored building covered turf facilities with other organizations, but funding and land availability are challenges.

For Charpentier, the sport has meaning beyond the player.

"It's a family thing," he said.

"The kids are happy. The parents are happy. It's important to keep that going all year long."

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