Today Willow and I found ourselves at the Ottawa Fury FC game where they went up against the Minnesota United FC. This was a first for both of us as neither of us had been to a professional soccer game before. To put the cherry on top of an already awesome experience, the Fury’s staff invited Willow to go on the field during the opening ceremonies as part of Kids Club Day. This was an absolute honor for us and we were so excited about it! Willow and I talked about it leading up to the event and when we woke up this morning, her first question for me was, “Is today the day I get to go on the soccer field mama?”
Before I share more about our experience, I have to say that I love that the Fury, the REDBLACKS and the 67s offer a Kids Club. This is a fantastic way for parents to engage their children in professional sports by way of a fun experience that is truly built for them. If you haven’t signed your kiddos up yet, you should! You can choose from either a free or paid membership and there are some great perks for signing up. If you’re interested, you can register them here and you can also get the low down on what you get with your membership.
We showed up at TD Place for about 2 o’clock and it was actually quite nice — the Fury had set up an area just inside of Gate 1 where they had bouncy castles, obstacles courses, a spot where you could kick soccer balls into a wall with targets on it plus other fun things to keep the kids occupied until game time. They also had the mascots from the Fury, the 67s and the REDBLACKS wandering around taking photos with children and even signing autographs (SO CUTE!) Willow loved meeting the mascots while she waited.
At about quarter to three, we were escorted down to the field and taken over to the player entrance. Willow was lined up with the other kids who were also participating in the player escort and then at the start of the game, one of the United players grabbed her hand and out they went. You could tell that, at first, she was a bit shy and nervous but she quickly warmed up and trotted onto the pitch so, so proud. I had to laugh though because during the anthem, while all of the other kids faced the same direction as the players, my wee girl stayed facing me. Leave it to her to be slightly unique from the crowd. 😉
After coming back off the field, we found our seats in section R on the South side and settled in with ice cream from Kiwi Kraze (love that they are on site!) and watched the Fury go up against United.
The game was really awesome and I may have found a summer sport that I really, really enjoy watching live. I think it’s because in many ways it reminds me of hockey and that is my most favourite sport to watch live. Willow loved watching the players kick the ball high, bounce it off of their heads and I found myself admiring their fancy footwork and their agility. It was extremely impressive. Although the Fury lost, the game was still really entertaining and we enjoyed being able to celebrate two goals during the game.
If you’re thinking about bringing your kids to a professional sports game, I must say that this would be a great one to bring them to — even if they have a tendency to get bored easily. Willow didn’t get bored at all as the sport itself is non-stop. Whereas in a game like football, or even hockey, there are a lot of whistles and breaks in the game play, soccer doesn’t have that. The time continues through most of the play, which means a faster moving sport with more going on visually.
Once the game was over, the best part (in Willow’s opinion) was about to happen. All of the children who registered with the Kids Club were allowed to go on the field to run around, get photos and autographs with the mascots and even have a chance to meet some of the players. Willow ran straight to Sparky and then spent the rest of her time running around like a crazy kid on the field (and I loved watching every minute of her craziness…) She loved it and had such a fantastic time.
I’d highly recommend checking out a Fury game and, before you go, signing your children up for the Kids Club. It creates such an exciting experience for them and gives them something to look forward to post-game, which is fabulous for those of you with smaller children who may need extra incentive to stick out the full game. 😉
After the game was over and the field cleared of children, we began our walk to our car. Here’s something else I wanted to note — if you head down to a game, consider parking somewhere in the Glebe. Then, after the game is over, head into the neighbourhood to explore some of the shops and restaurants in the area. On our way to the game we had stopped at The Wild Oat and got fresh juice (cucumber/ginger/apple was what we got today) and a croissant. On the way back to the car, we stopped at Francesco’s Coffee Company to grab strawberry/kiwi/banana smoothies. There are tons of places to get really great post-game snacks so check that out, too!
Can we take a moment to talk about how dirty Willow’s face is? LOL She had so much fun rolling around on the turf post-game and quite honestly, I let her stay that way. A dirty kid is sometimes a happy kid. Fun ain’t always clean!