Fire FC opening own indoor facility
For years, the high school and club soccer programs on the Western Slope have been behind those on the Front Range.
Earlier this month, the Grand Junction Soccer Club Fire FC took a major step in closing that gap by opening an indoor practice facility at 552 25 Road for widespread use in the Fire FC programs starting in November.
The 8,400-square-foot complex provides indoor training for poor weather conditions in the winter, as well as ample space for small-side games, said Shaun Howe, the Fire executive director.
Howe also said the indoor facility, which has carpeted artificial turf, is on par with other facilities in Colorado.
“Not a lot of clubs have their own indoor facilities,” Howe said. “I think it will greatly improve the quality of soccer over here and really increase the ball skills of our players and bring us closer to the level of soccer you see with some of the bigger clubs.
“It’s great that these kids will be able to get winter work in three or more days a week where they used to only get one day.”
Howe said the facility cost the club “less than $25,000” with the help of parents and community members. For Fire FC, owning its own facility was a matter of control without spending a fortune.
Howe said prices at Skyline Sports were too high, and Bookcliff Activity Center was often too far away for club members in the Redlands or Fruita area.
Being able to use a soccer venue at Fire FC’s discretion made the purchase appealing.
“In the fall we can use this kind of facility from like 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.,” Howe said. “In the winter we can use it all day with our various programs.”
The complex also provides a place for players to improve skills when outdoor training isn’t available, said Nick Gumpert, the Fire’s technical director.
“The facility will create more opportunities for players to continue to develop during the offseason months when we’re not able to be outside,” Gumpert said.
“(It benefits players) in refining skills through small-game environments and gives players more touches on the ball because individual development is the focal point.”
Stephan Russin, a member of the Grand Junction varsity soccer team and the Fire FC U15 boys premier team, said that the smaller setup helps his ball skills more than outdoor training.
The indoor complex will house futsal games — soccer matches played indoors on a small, rectangular playing surface, usually with a smaller ball. The smaller proportions are ideal for four- or five-person teams.
Carpeted artificial turf creates ball movement more like grass or artificial turf like that at Walker Field, rather than the hardwood floor of gyms typically used for winter training.
“It’s great for footwork because you spend less time on the ball and it’s moving around so quick,” Russin said.
Programs beginning this winter at the new facility include indoor matches for U17 and U18 players, skill sessions for U7-U12 players, tot sessions for young children and individual finishing and goalkeeper sessions for U11-U18 players.
Players and parents can sign up for any of the sessions at http://www.gjsoccer.org or by calling 242-4550.