By Ottawa Sports Pages, for Louis-Riel Rebelles
Is it the wild success of grads Vanessa Gilles and Jonathan David? Is it the beautiful new wing at the school? Is it the optimal training times and facilities? Whatever it is, Louis-Riel Soccer is blowing up in popularity, which has led to the launch of a new community program this winter.
“It’s a bit of everything, but at the core, I think people have understood that what we offer at Louis-Riel is unique and beneficial,” states Louis-Riel Soccer Academy Director Joé Fournier. “They see that we play positive soccer at Louis-Riel, that the students here are happy, they’re developing and they’re progressing, with many playing after high school in university, college or professionally.”
The new Louis-Riel Soccer winter program offers two training sessions per week at the Louis-Riel Dome for players in the under-9 to U21 age groups, all between 4:30-7:30 p.m. It’s open to all, including players who attend English schools.
“The program is something people have been asking for, for years,” highlights Fournier, who’s led Louis-Riel high school’s Sports-Study soccer initiative since it began in 2005.
“We don’t want to start our own (community) club,” he adds. “We don’t want to compete with what the clubs are doing. We just want to offer something different, maybe something extra for kids who are playing club, or something new for kids who are not playing club, or who can’t afford to play club.”
Offering a highly competitive rate of $250-500 for the season that runs from Nov. 20-Apr. 12 was important, underlines Fournier, along with a quality program run on turf fields at times that allow players to get home at reasonable hours to eat, do homework, relax and sleep.
They’ve also limited the size of each group so players can maximize their interactions with the coaches of Louis-Riel’s soccer program.
“It gives kids the chance to experience the Louis-Riel way to teach, learn and develop with our philosophy and methodology,” outlines Fournier, noting the program’s pillars are respect, excellence and passion.
Louis-Riel runs their sessions a little differently than most by integrating game action into each session, instead of dividing technical and tactical work.
“It’s a really nice way to play football, and we want to offer that to the community,” says Fournier, a National ‘B’-licenced coach with NCCP Level 4 certification.
The Exploratory Sports, Sports-Study and Academy soccer programs at Louis-Riel – which are integrated into the school day at the French public school – have exploded in popularity. They’re at maximum capacity with close to 250 students registered in Louis-Riel Soccer from Grade 7-12, making up roughly a fifth of the Gloucester school’s total population.
“It’s pretty crazy how much it’s growing,” indicates Fournier, who’s seen a great response to the new community program since registration opened in mid-September. “It’s exciting to do something new. It’s a lot of work, but it’s been great to see everyone’s enthusiasm already a month before our first session.”