'The way the ball rolls on the turf is amazing': London's newest soccer pitch now open
LONDON, ONT. -- A London soccer franchise now has its own permanent home.
The privately-funded Tricar Field opened this week in west London. The $2-million turf-field facility is the home of FC London and London TFC Academy (LTFCA).
"It is the closest thing to pro grass we've ever seen when it comes to turf," says Dave DeBenedictis, general manager of LTFCA.
In the first week, the youth academy has been training and the older players, including the League1 teams, have been holding inter-squad games.
"It's one of the best turf fields I've played on," says Ethan Gopaul, a winger for FC London.
"It reminds me of the top turf facility for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The turf is almost identical, the way you pass the ball and the way you receive the ball its feels amazing."
Groundbreaking on this pitch happened in Oct. 2019 and it is now expected to be rented over 1,400 hours per year.
It will be used for anything from five-on-five to 11 vs. 11 play.
The grounds will also have a clubhouse, patio and concession, with the field lights ready to be turned on this week.
The opening also coincides with the Ontario Soccer Associations return to play guidelines.
"We do health questionnaire forms before people take the field, along with masks, sanitizing and checking temperatures," says Debenedictis.
"We also encourage parents to physical distance in the parking lot, and have put markers down near the field to indicate where to stand. We're doing as much as we can to make it safe for the coaches and players."
Coaches doing training were wearing face coverings on the pitch, and 2011 LTFCA boys coach Sanir Cosovic was using wipes to clean all the soccer balls and markers after practice.
"First thing is to make everybody is safe," says Cosovic.
"We sanitize to make sure the next practice has everything clean and ready. We ask kids is not to touch the ball with head, or touch hands, only kicks and try to make it a good workout and fun for the kids."
The League1 season was cancelled this year, but FC London is playing inter-squad games to keep fit, and fight for roster spots when play does resume.
They'll now be able to train outdoors well into the fall without the worry of cancellations due to field conditions.
"Bringing something like this is fantastic to grow the soccer community in London," says Randy Ribeiro, a midfielder with FC London.
"To be part of organization that was part of a project like this is exciting. We are pleased to have a world class facility to train on and prepare us for the 2021 League1 season."