This weekend’s annual Insomnia Christmas Soccer Tournament had a bit of a different feel to it – with the tight-knit community honouring a member they lost in early 2017.
All 187 players in the weekend’s tournament wore jerseys with the number 20 on the back with the last name Richardson to remember Donny Richardson who died in January 2017.
Richardson was the MVP of last year’s tournament as the goalie for the winning team.
Organizer Haley Stallabrass said there was a lot of outreach and talk leading up to the tournament of how they were going to honour Richardson and they decided on getting these jerseys as well as re-naming the MVP trophies to the
Donny Richardson Award.
To get the jerseys for all the players, Stallabrass said Kluane Drilling, Richardson’s long-time employer, and Ewing Transport donated $1,000 each.
A total of eight teams on the men’s side and five in the women’s tournament competed in four days of non-stop soccer action with 33 games played at Vanier Catholic Secondary School starting Thursday and wrapping up on New Year’s Eve.
After a round-robin, all teams advanced to the playoffs with the men’s tournament having quarter-final match-ups and fourth and fifth place on the women’s side squaring off to determine who would advance to the semifinals with the other three teams.
On the women’s side, the junior girl’s futsal team heading to the Arctic Winter Games had a squad as a training tournament for the team. Made up of 14 and 15 year olds, Stallabrass said it really increased the age range of players in the tournament and also allowed for a different style of play to enter into the tournament.
“We were a little bit concerned of how it would go with Arctic Winter Games girls because their play is futsal not this type of soccer that women my age grew up on,” Stallabrass explained. “Some players have a 20-year age difference between these 15 year old girls.
“You can tell the difference. They are way better with their footwork, play very well together, make good runs. Both bring different things to the game.”
The type of soccer played at the Insomnia tournament is different than players are used to throughout the year. A wall is put up across the gym acting as boards that can be used in the game without any out of bounds areas. This
eliminated throw-ins and corner kicks speeding up the game immensely.
Co-organizer Alejandro Pulido said it is a more fast-paced physical game and is the game he grew up playing even though it isn’t seen too much anymore as most indoor soccer is played on the larger turf at the Canada Games Centre.
“I do feel the tournament will probably move to futsal in the future with the younger generation coming up playing futsal, but this is how I remember playing soccer when I was a kid and this is how it will stay until I’m done organizing it,” Pulido said.
The style of play is made possible because of the wall specifically built to fit the Vanier gym, Stallabrass said, that was built by her father and donated by True Scale Designs and Home Hardware.