Getting their kicks?

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

Edmonton may get another kick at a professional soccer.

A media conference has been scheduled for Tuesday to announce plans for bringing pro soccer back to Western Canada.

Although it has not been confirmed, it is speculated a group of private investors in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg will unveil plans to start up a semi-professional league similar to the Canadian Soccer League, which operates in Ontario and Quebec.

"I don't know who is behind this," said John Pino, deputy executive director of the Alberta Soccer Association. "From what I gather, though, they wouldn't have called a media conference if something wasn't in the works."

A similar press conference has been planned for Calgary that same day.

The CSL out East, previously known as the Canadian Professional Soccer League, is made up of teams in Ontario, Quebec and ethnic clubs in Toronto.

Their 22-game regular-league schedule runs from mid-May to the end of September.

"Any provincial association would be happy to have a professional sports team," Pino said. "Then their youth would have something to play somewhere.

"I think there is a market here. I don't think it would affect soccer in the city. It would only enhance it if it's done properly and marketed correctly."

Professional soccer teams have come and gone in Edmonton.

The most recent was the disaster known as the Edmonton Aviators, whose investors pulled out midway through the United Soccer League's A-League season forcing the league to take over the team.

There have also been a couple of re-incarnations of the Edmonton Drillers.

Ross Ongaro, who coached both the indoor Drillers and the Aviators was not aware of any professional endeavor and is not involved in this one.

He is currently operating the soccer academy out of Archbishop O'Leary.

"I think there is a niche for professional soccer here, but there has to be boundaries," Pino said. "My personal belief is if there are boundaries and the teams are close in proximity, then it can run.

"Even when the (indoor) Drillers were here in 1996 to 2000, they had 13,000 for their home opener. And there was always 6,000-10,000 people in the building. If you keep it local talent, you have to stay local.

"Edmonton is a sports town and they'll support it as long as it's a winning product and there's local talent."


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