New soccer and multisport mini-field opens in Laval’s Saint-François district

CF Montréal players help inaugurate Impact Foundation’s gift to the city

Players with CF Montréal along with officials from the Montreal Impact Foundation and the City of Laval opened a new synthetic surface multisport mini-field at du Moulin Park in Laval’s Saint-François district last week, much to the delight of some grade school children who were the first users.

It was the fourth mini-field inaugurated by the foundation – and the first in Laval – after similar sports fields were built over the past few years at Champdoré Park in Montreal’s Saint-Michel district, Joe-Beef Park in Pointe-Saint-Charles, and Paul-André Potvin Park in Shawinigan north of Quebec City.

Players with CF Montreal, alongside members of the Montreal Impact Foundation, representatives of the City of Laval and students from École l’Escale in Saint-François are seen here with team mascot Tac-Tik on Sept. 27 during the inauguration of the new playing field. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Health through sports

“We are always very proud to give back to the community through our mini-field facilities,” Montreal Impact Foundation President Carmie Frassetti Saputo said in a statement. “They are safe and healthy gathering places for youth and families from underserved communities.

“With this initiative, our primary goal is to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles,” she continued. “We are very grateful to the city of Laval for its invaluable collaboration, and I am confident that together we will continue improving access to youth sports as well as the quality of life in the Saint-François district.”

“Our administration is committed to providing new sports infrastructure in Laval and we are delighted to count on the collaboration of partners like the Montreal Impact Foundation to reach that goal,” Mayor Stéphane Boyer said in a press release.

Making sports accessible

“This new multisport synthetic mini-field in Parc du Moulin, accessible to all citizens, adds to our actions aimed to create more sports and family spaces on the island, particularly in the Saint-François sector,” he added. “This is exactly the kind of initiative that facilitates access to sports and improves the quality of life in the neighborhoods.”

Grade schoolers from the nearby École l’Escale played an informal soccer match with CF Montréal team members on the new field.

In a mission statement, the Montreal Impact Foundation says it organizes and supports various activities to help improve the quality of life of underprivileged children and their families. It mainly provides sports facilities to promote physical activity, and social integration.

Located in city park

The Saint-François field’s construction began May 6, with an initial inauguration date scheduled for mid-July 2022, although it opened only on Sept. 27. The field was built on parkland owned by the City of Laval and is now officially the city’s property.

The new facility was opened with help from CF Montréal (formerly Montreal Impact) players Zachary Brault-Guillard, Sebastian Breza, Kei Kamara and James Pantemis. The field was completed around the same time as the City of Laval was finishing a refurbishing at du Moulin Park, including renovated tennis and basketball courts. A multifunctional skating rink and a skatepark are scheduled for completion in 2024.

Laval city councillor Nicholas Borne, who sits on the executive-committee and attended the opening on behalf of Mayor Boyer, said the field will be accessible by everyone in the community, and not just by sports associations as is sometimes the case.

First signed at age 20

Born and raised in Kirkland on Montreal’s West Island, Pantemis, 25, got his foot in the door with CF Montréal in 2014 when he joined the club’s soccer academy, signing his first team contract at age 20. Pantemis made his competitive debut for the former Impact team on July 24, 2019 in a Canadian Championship match against York9, in which the Impact prevailed 1 – 0.

CF Montréal goalie James Pantemis plays with students on the new multisport field that opened in du Moulin Park in Saint-François on Sept. 27. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Describing his style of goalkeeping, Pantemis said, “I like to put a lot of emphasis on my reflexes. I think that’s a big part of my game. But I think today it’s important to try and take little things from everybody. You know, not all goalies are the same. So, if you take a little bit from each one, that’s the best thing.”

‘I like to put a lot of emphasis on my reflexes – I think that’s a big part of my game,’ says CF Montréal goaltender James Pantemis

Worked his way up

CF Montréal goalie James Pantemis.

Pantemis started playing house league soccer for AS Pierrefonds at age four, and later played for Lakeshore SC when he had reached U8 and U9 levels. Around that time, he also played on Lac-Saint-Louis regional teams, the provincial Team Québec and the youth national team.

Pantemis agreed there are a lot of good reasons for aspiring young soccer players to feel optimistic that they can one day play the sport professionally as he does now. “I personally enjoy returning to the community to show the kids that I played in some of their neighbourhood parks,” he said. “It’s a good motivator to show them that anything can happen if they want to achieve.”