Girls in an indoor centre.
(In Whitehorse, for both adults and youth, females make up more than 40% of the soccer players.)
What is an Indoor Soccer Centre?

Think hockey rink, with carpet instead of ice. The boards are higher at the ends and the goals are recessed. The game is similar to hockey with five field players plus a goalie and substitution on the fly from the player box. There is also a penalty box.

The Photo Tour of the Lethbridge Centre on this web site gives several pictures of a highly successful design. And our page which highlights Other Indoor Centres gives much information from other areas in Canada, especially western Canada.

All indoor games in Whitehorse are played in gymnasiums. Many people, even in the soccer community are unaware that facilities specially designed for indoor soccer are becoming common in Canada and the US.

In an indoor centre, the playing area is much larger than a gymnasium and it has rounded corners. Professional indoor teams have been playing in hockey arenas for a long time. The first true league began in 1978 and is today called the National Professional Soccer League. For several years the Edmonton Drillers took part in the league and played in the Coliseum. The team sadly folded in late 2000. The Toronto ThunderHawks started operations early the same year.

The ticket prices are much, much less than for better known sports, and the fans are younger. Many feel the game is the most exciting sport to watch. The NPSL rules are somewhat different from the Alberta Soccer Association indoor rules (on-line version to be linked when available).

A dedicated indoor soccer facility is different from the professional converted-arena type in several ways. It is designed primarily for soccer use. The size is smaller, generally 80 feet by 180 feet while the NHL standard is 85' x 200'. The boards are a little less rounded in the corners. To the right strathcona layout is the floorplan for the soccer area from the architectural drawings for the Strathcona County Multipurpose Recreation Facility in Sherwood Park, Alberta. Like our proposed multiplex the facility has two ice surfaces and an aquatic leisure centre. But instead of a flexhall, they have an area with two soccer fields. The Red Deer plan is similar.

This double field layout differs from that in Edmonton and Lethbridge where there is permanent seating between the fields. At Strathcona they are able to remove the boards between the fields giving a large space for special events.

In the diagram you can see the rounded boards, the recessed goals, and the lines. The players boxes and the penalty boxes are just outside the change rooms, at midfield.

Around the outside of the building are the ancillary spaces such as change rooms, offices, meeting rooms and storage space. In Lethbridge, another duplex, these areas are at one end. In both Edmonton fourplexes, these areas are in the middle of the building.

The Turf
Everyone is familiar with the term Astroturf, a brandname for one of the earliest artificial turfs. But there are now many manufacturers of turf systems for indoor soccer (see links below) and there are many types of turf design.

Fiber and Pad
The carpet and underlay type of turf system uses granulated rubber shock pad as underlay for the green stuff. Carpet and shock pad can be rolled up separately so that the facility can be converted to other uses. Edmonton, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat use this system. A similar system features carpet with an impact-absorbing backing permanently attached. The seams of either type of system may be sewn or attached with velcro. Of course, either type may also be glued permanently to the floor.

Infill
The infill turf systems all feature carpet with very long fibers. Artificial dirt is fibrillated (vibrated) down in between the fibers. The fibers may be of nylon, polypropylene or polyethelene. The artificial dirt may be silica (sand), a mix of sand and granulated rubber, or straight granulated rubber. Infill types of turf cannot be easily removed but flooring such as Sport Court can be placed on top. In Ancaster, Ontario, they play soccer in the winter on the carpet (sand-rubber infill type from Fieldturf), and roller hockey in the summer on the plastic overfloor.

Some Turf and Board Sites

Other Types of Flooring
Not everyone uses turf. Other systems are worth considering.

Plastic Tiling
The Saskatchewan centres do not use turf but a suspended plastic tiling system callled Sport Court. This kind of flooring is required in Canada for the national university volleyball championships. Saskatchewan players love it, and they don't get the rug burns familiar in the Alberta centres. It cleans easily and damaged tiles can be replaced. The tiling system also lends itself better to multi-purpose activities. They do not need to roll up carpet or cover it with canvas or plywood to have large crowds come through. Ball hockey, inline hockey and volleyball leagues regularly use the Sport Court flooring in Saskatoon. In Ancaster they put the Sport Court tiles over their FieldTurf.
In Windsor another type of plastic tiling will be used (27 June 2001). But they plan to put removable carpet on top.

Wood
The Prince George Roll-A-Dome is used by four adult soccer leagues and many development teams. The wooden floor was locally made and intended to be removable. The building is an old curling rink. The lumber rests on the sand of the old rink bed. In its early years, the floor was pulled up once and curling sheets put back in. It has remained in place for about 15 years. Intended for roller skating, the flooring is excellent for soccer. The Whitehorse Rapids Over-40 Men's team has been to two tournaments on this floor, in 2000 and 2001. It has excellent soccer properties. It feels great to run on, fall on and slide on. The floor's builder still runs the Roll-A-Dome. He thinks he could build the same floor today for $17-18,000, which is a fraction of any other system.

It would also be theoretically possible to install a suspended hardwood floor, as in a good gymnasium. It could be marked with lines for multiple sports and have sockets for volleyball, badminton and tennis nets.

How are the rules different from our gymnasium game?
Soccer is soccer but the indoor centre rules are different from those currently used in Whitehorse. Here, the youth teams use the Arctic Winter Games rules which are designed for gymnasiums. The net is long and low. There is a crease area in which only the goalie can play the ball. The goalie may not throw the ball into play except with an underhand motion. We field four runners and one goalie. Substitute when there is a stoppage in play in your favor and with the referee's permission.

In a soccer centre the net is bigger and recessed into the end boards. There is an area similar to the 18 yard box in outdoor in which the keepers may use their hands. It is much larger than the AWG crease, but also anyone may enter it. The goalie may play the ball as in outdoor. Besides the centre line, there are two lines which superficially resemble the offside lines in hockey (see images above). But there is no offside in this game. Instead, three-line passes, those which cross all three lines, are not allowed by any player including a goalie. Besides the goalie there are five players on the court. Substitution is unlimited and on-the-fly as in hockey. Players sit in the penalty box for certain infractions and the other team has a power play.

The professional NPSL rules are somewhat different from the Alberta Soccer Association indoor rules (on-line version to be linked when available).


Lethbridge Photo Tour  Other Indoor Centres
Alternative Uses  Why It's Needed  Work to date
Indoor Centre Main  Alberta article  Soccer Umbrella

Last updated, 29 June 2001