Prince Albert youth soccer program aims high as preparations begin for 2023-24 indoor season

Interested people registered at the U13 table during PYSA Registration Night on Tuesday at the Alfred Jenkins Field House. -- Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association (PAYSA) saw a record number of participants for their indoor soccer program last winter, and they’re hoping to see similar numbers return this season.

PAYSA held their Indoor Soccer Registration Night at the Alfred Jenkins Field House on Tuesday. Technical director Dragan Ivkovic said they expect to have nearly 800 youth players this year, an impressive number for a city the size of Prince Albert.

“We are looking forward to continuing the same success we have had since the end of the COVID era,” Ivkovic said.

“I believe we are offering kids a good program,” he added. “The biggest challenge we have is to find the right place for everybody.”

The Celtics competitive indoor program will return for another year, along with the recreational house league option. Rec league players will have one game a week. Celtics players will travel across the province for weekend tournaments.

There will also be a free Friday practice for recreational and house league players who want to improve their skills without playing for the Celtics.

Ivkovic said hitting record participation levels is great, but now the organization has to work hard to keep those kids playing.

“We want to go a couple of years keeping the same huge numbers. That’s our big challenge,” he said. “It’s so tough. Last year was a record for PAYSA, and the challenge will be to have the same numbers this year. Now, we are looking very good. At this moment, even before the (in-person) registration, just by the online numbers, we are looking very good.”

PAYSA saw a small boost last season thanks to Canada’s Men’s National Team, which made its first World Cup appearance since the 1980s when they qualified for the 2022 tournament.

Canada’s Women’s Team also qualified for the World Cup in 2023. Ivkovic said they will have to wait and see what kind of impact that has on PAYSA participation numbers.

“I know when it came to the World Cup of the men, definitely there was interest and everybody—the kids and the parents—we’re talking about it,” he said. “When it comes to the female (players), we’ll see. They (the Canadian National Women’s Team) didn’t do too good, so we’ll see how it looks. That happens. It’s competitive soccer. At that level, anything can happen, definitely.”

For more information about registering online, visit Registrations are open until Sept. 30. After that date, a late fee of $50 will apply.