Competitors of the wolf pack be warned, Cochrane Minor Soccer's outdoor season is ramping up to be bigger and better than ever.
Registration opens Feb. 1 and the club's new director of soccer Scott Ansell, means business.
"One of the first things we've done, is we've implemented a proper technical structure," said Ansell, who started with the club in September.
"We've hired proper technical staff that are qualified and nationally licensed, and we've been able to attract some really good coaches."
While it's typical for organizations to focus on the training and development of competitive and older players, Ansell said they now have the resources to hone in on each area of the club.
"If you're three, four, five, six years old... you still get a nationally licensed coach that is able to deliver a good quality program. They're also going to be equipped to help coach the other coaches, so that we have that kind of continual learning stream throughout the whole club."
Ansell, who is originally from the Southwest of England, has combined several years of experience playing soccer in semi-professional leagues in England and at the university level in Manitoba, and has even more years behind him as a coach and sport developer.
After his university career, Ansell began working with the Manitoba Soccer Association as the grassroots manager, helping the program to develop three competitive clubs in rural areas of the province.
Ansell then led Manitoba to second place in the Western Canada Summer Games before moving to Calgary in 2019, where he's worked with the Calgary Rangers Soccer Club.
Now he aims to bring his best leading the Wolves in Cochrane.
"We're trying to run the best program possible, comparable with any program in Alberta," he said.
"There's been some good work done here, and we're just trying to build on that to keep growing that culture and make it as exciting as possible."
Soccer, or football as they call it in Europe, is like a religion to many Europeans, Ansell said. He hopes to build a similar passion for the game in players and spectators of the sport right here in Cochrane.
"One thing I've seen in my short time here is we've got groups of players that are getting better all the time, and then loving it, because they're excited about being able to do more with the ball and enjoy making plays with it," he said, having worked with the program's indoor roster the last few months.
"That's the excitement of the ball, like in any sport — it's those kinds of game changes, and we're seeing more and more of them because kids are getting better with the ball. So naturally, they're enjoying it more."
To keep things engaging in all parts of the program, new training and development curriculums involve more game-based activities rather than solely focusing on lines and drills.
"It's fun activities while teaching at the same time," said Ansell. "So kids are always moving, they're always active and they've always got a ball."
The director said he looks forward to representing Cochrane as a community and using his ideas to progress and help shape the club to become a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
"To me, there's so much potential here," he said. "I would call it like a sleeping giant, where we just haven't had the level of program that we deserve, up to this point."
To learn more or register, visit cochraneminorsoccer.com.