‘Build it and they will come’.

A large gateway marks the entrance to the CNIB Lake Joe property.

In a secluded corner of Canada, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, nestled among trees and yards from the banks of one of Ontario’s many beautiful lakes sits the first permanent, purpose built blind soccer field. The field is pristine, away from distractions and crying out for its first blind players to enjoy it next spring.

This significant project coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and was executed with the support of the Synthetic Turf Council of North America. The installation of an artificial turf field involves many contractor roles that include; grading the playing surface, laying the sub floor, manufacture of the playing surface, surface installation and back fill with rubber crumb. Added to this project will be landscaping due to be completed in the spring of 2022 and the installation of an LED lit scoreboard. All of the partners provided product or sweat equity to make this field of dreams a reality and the Synthetic Turf Council members included;

Of particular note is the perimeter of the playing surface which dazzles in bright yellow. The contrast naturally helps many of the players who, while visually impaired, won’t be wearing eye shades when they play. The contrast will keep them safe in warning them they are at the edge of the playing surface. For those players who are legally bind or wearing eye shades the yellow perimeter also has a crushed walnut shell infill. This contrast provides both an audible difference and a tactile difference for these players. The sound under foot is lighter, crisper than the actual playing surface.

Picture shows the edge of the green pitch marked with white lines and then the yellow warning path around it.

Finally, behind each goal the lines have been marked ready for the Guide during games, and also includes netting to protect spectators because when a futsal ball flies it can sting!

The picture shows a soccer goal in position with field markings for goalkeeper area and the guide behind the net.

CNIB are to be commended for this vision and leadership. Nowhere was this more poignant than in the words of guest speaker Diane Bergeron. Diane is a blind sport legend with countless achievements include the completion of Iron Man races and triathlons, however Dianne only got started in competitive sport at 47 years of age. Describing herself as active and fearless at a young age she never had the opportunities that sighted people have and it was only later in life that she was pulled into a triathlon, then boat races and loved the challenge so much that she kept pushing and pushing her limits to eventually complete a full Iron Man competition, after falling just short the year before. Her drive and determination came across loud and clear. Fast forward to September 24th 2022 and speaking to a group of 30 dignitaries from across Ontario she emphasized the opportunity that investments like this can bring in a young person’s life. Providing them with a facility that meets their need and at the same time opens the door to new sports and all that it brings.

CNIB Officials and Synthetic Turf Council leaders cut a celebratory ribbon in the centre of the soccer field.

In April 2022 Ontario Blind Sport Association (OBSA) in collaboration with Soccability Canada plan to run the first blind soccer residential course in Canada. An immersive experience that will bring players, coaches and match officials together over the course of two and a half days will allow for plenty of priceless discussion, extensive learning and great social opportunities alongside the banks of Lake Joseph. Delivered by Soccability Canada, OBSA and leading international learning facilitators in coach and officiating for blind soccer will not only deliver the course but establish the content for future course delivery across Canada.

Live-Play-Learn-Work-Tech are listed on a yellow banner highlighting CNIB priorities.
A yellow banner highlights the many activities available at Lake Joe.

Spaces will be limited, if you are interested in learning more about this exciting development and stepping into Canada’s best kept sporting secret then we’d love to connect. Please reach us at inquiries@soccability.ca to learn more details.

CNIB President and CEO John Rafferty watches as his shot on the goal hits the top corner of the net.
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