With Cranbrook’s new indoor sports facility only a few days from opening, local soccer is set for a renaissance.
As part of this, a new coach has arrived to serve as technical director for KEYSA (Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association), the the umbrella organization for youth soccer in the East Kootenay.
Adam Mooi will also run the Vancouver Whitecaps FC academy and camp programs in the region, as part of the partnership between the professional club and KEYSA.
Mooi was hired by the Whitecaps and arrived in Cranbrook in early November from Manitoba. So far, he has been running the programming virtually with the young players.
“It’s been a bit strange, because with the new dome not open, I’ve only been running online sessions for the kids in the East Kootenay,” Mooi told the Townsman. “There are no gyms that are being rented out right now.
“It’s hard to meet the players and get a good feel about how things are, in terms of virtual sessions and doing things online. But there’s definitely been a strong core that been to all the online sessions. They’ve been great. Their spirits have been good, their work rate has been good. Some of the players have been quite technical, so that’s good to see.
“I’ve had a lot of positive feedback and comments from the people that I’ve interacted with. Parents seem to be happy.”
The new indoor sports facility in Balment Park is set to open in a few days. And Mooi is ready to start running the sessions there, with all due regard to rules and restrictions laid out by the ongoing pandemic.
“We’ve got programming December 12, if all goes as planned. There has to be social distance training, so the kids will be training in boxes, per se. We’ve got five sessions on December 12.”
Mooi runs the coaching sessions for KEYSA and provides technical direction for the association.
“For the players that want a little bit more — the U-8 to U-14 players — the Whitecaps run an additional academy,” he said. “Most of them will be part of KEYSA, and play and train with KEYSA, and also do extra academy training with the Whitecaps.
“For our U-14 to U-18, the high school players, we have a program called Caps to College. It’s a university prep program. That’s a little more expansive, that group trains twice a week, and they also have nutrition seminars and university prep seminars, strength conditioning seminars — that kind of stuff. A little more intense for them.”
Mooi is looking forward to growing the sport in the region, working in conjunction with the KEYSA board of directors.
“It’s a small soccer community, but one that’s passionate and looking to grow the game, which is fantastic,” he said. “Now it’s about growing awareness and recognition of KEYSA, and ultimately of the Whitecaps as well.”
To this end, the new facility is going to play a great role.
“There’s been a ton of work put in by the board. It’s definitely been a community effort, and it’s super exciting. It’s a springboard to help grow the game and make it more popular.
“Playing soccer in gyms is not ideal,” Mooi said. “It’s just not the same as being on a turf field and being able to play properly, more or less twelve months out of the year. Look at Vancouver, where they can train outside all year round. They’ve got great pitches, and turf pitches everywhere.”
A dome like Cranbrook’s helps puts a small city like Cranbrook on that same level, he said.
While the KEYSA players come from all over the region, most of the Whitecaps academy programming will take place in Cranbrook. In the month he has been here, Mooi has also been helping out the Kootenay West Academy Centre.
“Because the programming in Cranbrook hasn’t been in full flight due to the indoor facility not being open, I’ve been travelling to Nelson every weekend to help the Whitecaps program there,” he said.
One aspect of the programming Mooi is working to enhance is increasing the amount of competition — the number of games to be played.
“The reality is there’s no competition close by,” he said. “It’s a detriment to players’ development.
“Most of the teams go to three tournaments a year — nine to twelve games a year. Players want to play games. That’s why they play soccer. The game is the best teacher, ultimately.
“I’ve already been thinking and trying to get some ideas in place that more games can happen, whether those are interclub games, or a few more weekends where we travel to Nelson or Nelson comes here. We’ve got to get more creative about it.”
Mooi was most recently technical manager for the Manitoba Soccer Association, where he implemented and managed technical programs across Manitoba, including delivering national coach education courses. He also acted as the head coach for the Canada Soccer Manitoba Regional Excel Centre, where he was responsible for talent identification and selection of players. He is very familiar with Whitecaps FC programming, having coached in the Manitoba Soccer Vancouver Whitecaps FC Prospect Program for three years, where he was responsible for creating and running sessions and high performance programs. He joined the MSA from Winnipeg South End United, working as the assistant technical director for two years.