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Soccer with drones: How a new aerial sport is creating career paths for youth

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A group of teenagers in Papaschase First Nation have found a new way of playing soccer by swapping out players for pilots.

Drone soccer blends the basic concept of soccer and adds the aerobatics of drone flying to create the unique version of the game which is played from inside an inflatable arena.

In a three-on-three game, each pilot sets to fly their drone through suspended white rings to score a goal while a goalie hangs back to block its ring from the opposing team. Each drone is encapsulated in a bubble-like wireframe which protects the drones during inevitable collisions throughout a match.

While the game is wildly entertaining for the club members, it does serve other purposes by developing STEM skills in the pilots and potentially exposing them to drone flying as a career path.

Mark Palka of Project Safe Canada told CTV News Edmonton that each pilot will learn the basics of aviation through the drone soccer program.

"They would be able to learn how propellers work, how airframes were structured, how lipo-batteries get stored, all kinds of aspects that were involved in not just drones but in aviation," said Palka.

"You learn the basics in aviation so you can become an air traffic controller or you can become an airplane pilot. The courses are all the same. They're just advances or progressions from that."

"I think if you look at what some of the kids are doing, they're not just here as pilots; they're here as mechanics or as programmers as well," he added.

As it stands, the club only has half a dozen members but they are optimistic that the fast-growing sport will attract new members.