A long-time local soccer coach and advocate is retiring from the role after more than 35 years of involvement with the sport in Airdrie.
Rod Kinley announced last Friday that he'd be stepping down from his coaching roles with the Airdrie United men's soccer teams at the end of the current indoor season.
“I would like to thank everyone for all your support over the 35 years we ran and operated the soccer programs for all the participants of Airdrie United, now known as ADFA, but it is time for me to retire!” Kinley wrote on Facebook on March 17. “I have seen some great development in this sport and met so many interesting people over the years.”
Reached after publishing his post, Kinley told the City View his decision to retire from coaching local soccer teams came after about a year or two of reflection.
“I’m feeling a lot better – it’s been about a week since I decided,” he said. “I’d say it’s bringing back a flood of memories. It’s been a long time. For the last year, I’ve been thinking about it. COVID didn’t help the situation, when things went sideways with all sports.”
Kinley's involvement with Airdrie's soccer-related goings-on dates back to the late 1980s, when he first volunteered as a coach for his son's U5 team. He continued coaching his son's (and younger daughter's) youth teams for the next dozen or so years, until they'd completed their minor soccer careers.
After that, Kinley transitioned toward coaching men's soccer teams in Airdrie. He helped spearhead the creation of the first open-division men's teams that competed in the Calgary United Soccer Association (CUSA), and later, the creation of over-35 and over-45 teams.
At its heyday, Kinley said Airdrie United was operating six men's teams before the COVID-19 pandemic – squads competed under the Airdrie United banner in Divisions 2 and 4 of CUSA, as well as two over-35 and two over-45 teams.
He said the men's teams provided an outlet for local players to continue playing soccer after their final season of U18.
Kinley said his long-time passion for the sport lies in its simplicity.
“It’s a great sport to play,” he said. “It’s easy for kids to get together. It’s not a violent sport, and more a fun sport. The people involved who keep it going and keep it organized here [are great].”
Two of the projects Kinley said he is most proud of throughout his time inn Airdrie soccer include the development of Monklands Park – the home outdoor soccer fields for the ADSA – and the subsequent development of the indoor soccer pitch at Genesis Place Recreation Centre.
“Monklands was a great project. The guy who started that was a guy by the name of Darrel Jan. He had the vision of wanting to do a soccer park. He cornered me and trapped me into becoming president of Airdrie Minor Soccer at the time. We worked from there to get Monklands built. Brian Astley was the president who finished it.
“Once we finished Monklands, we started fundraising to get an indoor program, because that was becoming more popular. In my realm, we started putting money aside for the development of an indoor pitch. That continued right on up until Genesis was built.”
In predicting what he'll miss most about being involved in Airdrie's soccer community, Kinley said it's probably the social aspect.
“I love the game, I love organizing and watching the game,” he said. “It’s just great to participate in it.”