Yukon soccer players are on the national radar thanks to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC youth soccer academy that started coming up to the territory a few years ago to hold ID camps.
The talent found in the North from the most recent ID camp in August was on display at a winter soccer showcase tournament in Seattle, Wash. over the past two weekends.
A total of eight athletes went down to represent on the Whitecaps regional teams in the Pacific Northwest Winter Classic and Showcase.
All eight athletes play with the Yukon Selects FC and technical director Spencer Rich said these players were selected from the ID camp by the Whitecaps specifically for this tournament.
Christina Sim, a Selects team manager, went down with six of the eight players for the second weekend of the tournament Jan. 12-15 and said this opportunity was like another tryout for the players and a chance to show their skills for future offers.
“Their intention was to put together some teams not from the mainland, sort of the outlying communities and they wanted to include Yukon in that,” Sim said. “They wanted to put together some high-performance players and give them opportunities to do a bit of training and showcase their skills a bit more for them,” she said.
The large tournament featuring teams from all across the U.S. and B.C. also attracts a lot of high-level scouts, Sim said.
And the players from the north didn’t disappoint, with Sim noting a few of the players have already received offers to attend ID camps with university and college teams both in the U.S. and B.C. as well as offers to play in B.C.’s highest level soccer league, the B.C. Soccer Premier League.
“It’s very exciting. It means that we’ve done an excellent job so far and we’re heading in the right direction for sure in developing individual talent up here,” Rich said.
The players, varying in age, played on different Whitecaps Academy teams created specifically for the tournament. So having never played together before as a full unit, Sim said the teams had a strong showing against high-level teams that have experience playing together.
The 2003 boy’s team, consisting of both Joe Hanson and Ben Kishchuk from Whitehorse, went undefeated in the round robin of the tournament not allowing a goal before losing 1-0 in the semifinals.
The other players from Whitehorse were Malorie Hanson (2000 girl’s team), Simon Kishchuk (2000 boy’s team), Dawson Weir (2000 boy’s team), and Rhys Faragher (2002 boy’s team).
The previous weekend, two of the younger Selects players went down to compete in the tournament for the younger divisions. Ivan Johnson and Zach Salwypy competed in the 2004 and 2005 age divisions respectively.
Two other players were given offers, but didn’t make it down to participate because of injuries.
Sim, Faragher’s mother, said Faragher along with a few other players have previously gone down to Vancouver for Whitecaps FC development camps.
A busy weekend of soccer for the players, Sim said they all had a great experience and left with new opportunities on the horizon.
“It was an amazing tournament. Everyone was really friendly, the venues were fantastic and it was very busy,” she said.