TATAMAGOUCHE - The difference was like comparing day to night for Jesse Hunt.
The 18-year-old Tatamagouche resident noticed lots more people watching his North Colchester Mustangs senior boys soccer team during a recent exhibition match at their new complex behind the North Shore Rec Centre. And maybe, just maybe, it may have helped the team to the win, a rarity over the past several seasons.
"There were people at the games who have never been here before watching," Hunt, who has been splitting time between fullback and striker, said. "We always played on a field that was nothing special but now people can come and be proud of this and it's something that's really nice for our community."
After it was first proposed four years ago, the $175,000 project is set to be officially unveiled Saturday. An official ribbon cutting will be held at 9 a.m. followed by three soccer matches. The North Colchester Mustangs junior girls and boys will take on Thorburn at 9:30 and 11 a.m., respectively followed by a co-ed recreation game between North Colchester and River John at 12:30 p.m. for students in Grades 6 to 8.
"I hope it will attract people to the field because I think once they get here they'll appreciate what's been done," project manager John K. MacDonald said. "This is for the community and it's a huge improvement over what we had in the past."
The land, formerly a hill at the south end and swamp at the north, has been transformed into a regulation soccer pitch circled by a 400m running track. Formerly, North Colchester was one of the only high schools in the province without a track for athletes to train on.
Next year, a new $100,000 softball field will be added.
Funding for the project came from the province, county, school and other fundraising efforts in the community.
Malagash resident Aly Pickard-Tattrie said the complex was sorely needed. A captain of the Mustangs senior girls soccer team, the 17-year-old said the school's four soccer squads were constantly forced to share the former pitch, located in front of the school, or practice off to the side while another team used the playing surface.
"We had a lot of scheduling conflicts," she said. "This gives us a lot more room."
And it also gives the school's track and field team an actual track to train on.
"We just ran where we could but now we actually have a real spot we can go to," Hunt said.
That's part of the reason why MacDonald decided to spearhead the effort to build the complex. In his role as chairman of the Colchester East Hants Health Authority he knows the importance of living an active and healthy lifestyle and he felt a great sense of pride seeing players on the pitch and the rec centre parking lot full of vehicles during the recent exhibition match.
"For the community to have this type of field, the young people will tell you they think it's just awesome and they appreciate it's just starting," he said.