‘Panna Arena’ wins Awesome Kingston February grant

An example of a Panna arena. Submitted photo.

Last week, Awesome Kingston awarded their February grant to a local high school student who hopes to bring a Panna arena to the area to support skill development and encourage off-season soccer play. The $1,000 micro-grant supports local projects the Awesome Kingston trustees think will help keep Kingston awesome.

Colin Galarneau is a grade 10 student at École secondaire publique Mille-Îles, and an avid soccer player. Currently, he plays at the regional level for the Kingston United Soccer Club, and his passion for the sport has inspired this project.

“Soccer is the largest participatory sport in Canada and is considered the fastest growing sport in the country,” Galarneau stated. “In Kingston, we have two clubs with over 2,500 kids playing the beautiful sport. However, we lack adequate facilities to play, particularly in the winter months.”

While travelling in Amsterdam with his family two years ago, Galarneau saw a Panna arena in action for the first time.

“I was already acquainted with the game’s premise, but to see a Panna arena for the first time was astonishing,” he shared. “Knowing that, in tenth grade, I would have to complete a project that impacts the community, it was almost as if a light had turned on in my head. I became determined to make this happen.”

According to Galarneau, a Panna arena is a small arena for one-on-one soccer play. “The goal is to either score three times in the opposition’s net or pass the ball through their legs (which is called a Panna in Dutch, hence the name),” he explained.

As with many things, the worldwide pandemic disrupted organized sports activities, and Galarneau believes that a Panna arena would provide opportunities to “bring the community together and encourage physical activity, which are critical elements to kids healthy development.”

The portable arena will be used at Milles-îles, which is currently in a temporary location with no activities available, according to Galarneau. When it’s not being used at the school, he plans to take it to festivals and events in and around the area.

“When it comes to the logistics of getting the arena, I considered making one by hand,” Galarneau said. “After realizing that doing so would be very expensive, I decided to look for an alternative, such as a company that made and shipped arenas.”

After searching online and reaching out to companies who manufacture the arenas, Galarneau found a model that claimed to be compact, light and portable, while still being durable – all the features he was looking for. This model is called the Panna Knock Out cage, and has aluminum walls, which Galarneau plans to brand with local businesses or organizations who support his project.

The Awesome Kingston grant money will go toward the purchase of this arena, along with a $1,500 grant Galarneau received from ACFOMI. However, the cost of this arena is around $5,000, so Galarenau hopes to partner with a few companies to offset more of the costs.

“I’m planning to partner with Kingston United, a local competitive [soccer] club in Kingston. During the summer months, I plan on handing over the arena to them as it will be a fun and mutually beneficial relationship. More people get to play Panna, and at the same time, those young kids get to see [skills] improvement.”

According to Galarneau, his school board, Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO), will be providing support for this project as well. The ballpark figure he expects from the board will fall between $2,000 and $2,500, which he stated, should nearly cover the complete purchase cost of the arena alongside the two grants.

Learn more about the Awesome Kingston grant.

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