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Five children posing on the giant yellow CNIB Lake Joe logo in the middle of the new soccer field. They are all wearing grey CNIB Lake Joe tshirts.

Build it, and they will come: new accessible soccer pitch and mini-golf course

CNIB Lake Joe is thrilled to unveil the first permanent, purpose-built blind soccer field. Through the generosity of its members, the Synthetic Turf Council (STC) donated a fully accessible soccer pitch, mini-golf course and amenities to CNIB Lake Joe.

Marking the STC’s very first international Community Service Project, CNIB Lake Joe hosted the dedication ceremony on Friday, September 24, 2021.

Ribbon-cutting on the new CNIB Lake Joe soccer pitch. From left to right: Sherri & Monique (CNIB Lake Joe), Dan & Mark (Synthetic Turf Council) and Josh (CNIB Lake Joe)

The STC strongly believes in the power of synthetic turf to improve people's lives,” says Dan Bond, CAE, President and CEO. This field and miniature golf course will provide hours of enjoyment and a place for community development for people of all ages that attend camp at CNIB Lake Joe.” 

What makes a soccer field accessible for people with sight loss – and sighted players with blindfolds? The perimeter of the playing surface is a bright yellow to alert players who are partially sighted that they are at the edge of the field. This border also has a crushed walnut shell infill providing a tactile difference for these players. Special netting behind the goal ensures spectators are protected from wayward soccer balls. The soccer balls have metal bells inside that jingle and rattle as they’re kicked around their field.

The new mini golf has eight holes with super colourful golf balls and flags to create high contrast. The course was crafted with a mix of easy and difficult holes and actually spells out the words “mini golf” using the braille alphabet. The elevations and dips on each hole resemble a braille cell. The first hole is “m” with bumps in the top two corners and the bottom left corner of the course (check out the Braille alphabet). The course is waiting on some final touches to be ready for 2022.

“What I love most is that the kids are going to have more opportunity, more excitement and gain the benefits of adaptive sport,” says Diane Bergeron, President, CNIB Guide Dogs, VP International Affairs, and blind sport legend. “Sight loss should never stop them from achieving whatever goal it is that they want to achieve, and CNIB Lake Joe can get them there.”

What’s next?

Additional landscaping around the soccer pitch is due to be completed in the spring of 2022, along with the installation of an LED-lit scoreboard.

In April 2022, Ontario Blind Sport Association (OBSA) and Soccability Canada plan to run the first blind soccer residential course in Canada. This immersive experience will bring players, coaches and match officials together for discussion, learning and social opportunities at CNIB Lake Joe.