Kyle Johnson joins Vernon mayor Akbal Mund and Grant Kitzman of Toyota in cutting the ribbon to celebrate the new Vernon Toyota Indoor Soccer Centre sponsorship. Centre GM Kai Topinrud is to Johnson’s left. (Kevin Mitchell/Morning Star)

Kyle Johnson joins Vernon mayor Akbal Mund and Grant Kitzman of Toyota in cutting the ribbon to celebrate the new Vernon Toyota Indoor Soccer Centre sponsorship. Centre GM Kai Topinrud is to Johnson’s left. (Kevin Mitchell/Morning Star)

Vernon Toyota jumpstarts youth soccer programs

Six-year, $90,000 sponsorship deal at indoor centre

You often see a Toyota commercial on TV where families and groups are staying busy heading to activities and sporting events. No matter what type of Toyota vehicle they drive, the message is clear: You make the vehicle a sports car, and not the other way around.

The company’s focus on athletics hit the forefront locally Thursday as they formally announced a six-year, $90,000 sponsorship as the Vernon Toyota Indoor Soccer Centre.

The indoor facility adjacent to Marshall Field in the Okanagan Landing opened in 2006 with VantageOne Credit Union as the first sponsor.

“I’m extremely happy to have Vernon Toyota step forward,” said soccer centre GM Kai Topinrud. “Marty Steele was very generous to come through after VantageOne decided to go another direction. Without sponsorships from corporations in the community, these types of things are very difficult to keep operational. This will go a long way to subsidize our programs inside and keep our kids, in their chosen sport of soccer, training throughout the year. It’s fantastic.”

Topinrud says the high cost of renting inside space at between $180 to $240 an hour compared to $20 an hour for outside fields forces the association to seek funding assistance.

There are 2,200 players registered with the North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association (NOYSA) and another 1,300 involved in the Thompson Okanagan FC (TOFC), Whitecaps School Academy and adult leagues, all playing or training indoors.

“For our kids to be able to keep up at any level, playing teams in other areas of B.C. who can train 12 months a year, these types of facilities are vital.”

Kyle Johnson and Grant Kitzman represented Toyota at the grand opening of the indoor centre.

“This just kind of stands for what Toyota is all about, the active lifestyle,” said Johnson. “The building itself, is all about active lifestyle, so that’s the reasoning. It’s a great, great fit.”

Johnson says Toyota has several staff members who have coached in NOYSA and the Steele family has long been involved in the game.

Vernon mayor Akbal Mund, who coaches youth and plays oldtimers, loves the new partnership.

“It carries on a tradition of businesses getting involved with the community and in this term, soccer,” said Mund. “It’s great to have Toyota come on as a sponsor. I know Marty plays soccer and he sees it as an important aspect of building relationships within the community. It’s a win-win for the business and the sports community.”