Simplicity credited for soccer growth

The game of soccer has become an increasingly popular sport in Nova Scotia, with close to 30,000 people currently playing.

The game of soccer has become an increasingly popular sport in Nova Scotia, with close to 30,000 people currently playing.

“Participation has really gone up in the last 15 to 20 years,” says Mike Hudson, the director of coaching and player development for Soccer Nova Scotia.

Since 1990, soccer participation numbers have jumped from 10,000 to almost 30,000, although it has levelled off in recent years.

Hudson attributes part of this overall growth to the 1994 FIFA World Cup, which was held in the United States. He says the rise in soccer’s popularity is not just a local trend, but rather it’s part of a broader North American trend.

There are a number of reasons for soccer’s growing popularity. One is that soccer is a simple sport to play, both in rules and equipment. With a pair of shoes and shin guards, a player has all the equipment they need. Contrast that with a sport like hockey where equipment costs can run in the thousands of dollars.

Canada’s increasing multicultural nature is also a factor.

“New immigrants in any country always gravitate to what sort of sports they (already) have,” says Hudson.

Worldwide, soccer is the most popular sport.

The game’s profile in Canada should increase even more because of Canadian Major League Soccer (MLS) franchises. There is a team in Toronto and expansion franchises are planned for Vancouver and Montreal.

But soccer still faces its challenges in Nova Scotia as it is very difficult for players to move beyond the local pitches to the professional ones.

“That’s something we’re always trying to address,” says Hudson. He says that for Nova Scotia’s elite players, squaring off against top talent means they have to fly across the country for the matches.

“The geography is just massive (here) which kind of hinders development,” says Hudson. “It doesn’t hinder participation, it just hinders development.”

 
 
Latest From ...
Most Popular From ...