The soccer pitch inside Winkler's new Meridian Exhibition Centre is ready to be used and on Thursday the city held a 'soft opening' celebration for the facility.
To mark the occasion, Mayor Martin Harder was joined by two local youth, William and Jesse Vanden Berg.
Several years ago, the two brothers came before Winkler council requesting the city consider building an indoor soccer pitch and presented the mayor with a $20.00 donation to kick things off.
Four years later, the soccer pitch has been constructed and William Vanden Berg was quite impressed with the facility.
"It's awesome. It's very beautiful and I couldn't have imagined it four years ago. I can't wait until it actually opens and we can play in here."
Soccer has been a passion for the Vanden Berg family for many years. Andrew Vandenburg, their father, played high school soccer and played with the Winkler Storm of the Manitoba Major SoccerLeague. Andrew says he's excited that his boys now have a top-notch facility in their community to train in.
"It's been exciting to watch them progress in soccer and a facility like this will help them mentally because they can now train through the winter without having to travel to Winnipeg. The boys are pumped and I know all the other soccer community members are pumped as well."
Jesse recalls those long drives to Winnipeg in winter to train at an indoor facility there, and is excited about the prospect of practicing in his home community.
"It'll be great. The driving was always the worst part, so having something here is pretty awesome."
It was those long winter drives that got Jesse thinking about how wonderful it would be to have an indoor soccer pitch in his own community. His mom Lisa suggested he could start the ball rolling by talking to local politicians about the idea.
"He had the idea of writing a letter to the mayor. At around that time, he had found $20.00 (in a parking lot), so he sent that money with the letter. He got a lot of his soccer friends to sign his letter. We were so proud of him for taking that initiative. It was pretty cool."
She notes the new fieldhouse is a beautiful facility, and they're grateful to city council for making it happen.