Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

SETTING UP THE DRILL – Barça Academy technical director Eudald Mena sets up a drill for the Whitehorse FC premier athletes Saturday at the Canada Games Centre.

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Photo by John Tonin

GOING FOR GOAL – Players of all ages packed the Canada Games Centre Saturday to participate in the annual food drive and Toonie Tournament Fundraiser hosted by Whitehorse Minor Soccer.

A full weekend of soccer at the CGC

There were some busy days of soccer at the Canada Games Centre, Friday and Saturday.

By John Tonin on December 4, 2018

There were some busy days of soccer at the Canada Games Centre, Friday and Saturday.

Whitehorse Minor Soccer hosted 500 futsal players from Whitehorse, Dawson City, Teslin and Haines Junction for the annual food drive and Toonie Tournament Fundraiser.

As well at the CGC, the Whitehorse Football Club premier academy players participated in a training session run by the Barça Academy. The programs structured by the Barca Academy use the same comprehensive methodology from FC Barcelona.

“We have 49 academies across the World already,” said Eudald Mena, technical director for Barca Academy Calgary.

“We have six academies here in Canada. We enjoy teaching the kids.”

Edgar Musonda, technical director of Whitehorse FC hopes that having the Barça coaches in Whitehorse will open doors for the territories premier soccer players.

“Their main goal, here with us today is to work with the Yukon community,” said Musonda.

“They are also here to open up opportunities for Yukon players. We would like to open up Barcelona Camps summer camps where we will have opportunities for the greater Yukon population.

“Right now we just targeted the premier academy players from Whitehorse FC. These are the players we want involved with them as part of our development agenda to get the premier athletes exposed to higher levels coaching.”

Mena says the camps differ from the academy. The camps will have coaches sent over from Spain to work with the athletes as well as the local coaches.

The Barça Academy teaches players the methodology and tactics used by the professional team Barcelona FC. The main message of the coaching clinics is, control the ball. Do this and the game will be much more fun for you as well as your teammates.

“We teach them that for us, the most important thing is to keep the ball,” said Mena. “They usually think the one that does the dribbling is the best player. But we come here and say the best player is the one who keeps the ball. The one who keeps the ball is the best player.

“If you touch the ball ten times and you keep the ball you are attacking all the time. We want to teach them to keep the ball and attack all the time because it is more fun. People will sometimes say we don’t care about winning, of course we want to win, but it’s not the most important thing. If you are having fun, the players are enjoying soccer more.”

Mena and his fellow coaches ran the kids selected through a variety of drills, all aimed to simulate game play. The coaches will have to adjust certain drills, to the situations they are in, but the message and philosophy stays the same.

“We adapt the methodology to the reality we have,” said Mena. “Like the facilities here are shocking to us, the indoor facilities, so we adapt the drills, in terms of size. But technically we believe playing situation games; the players will develop better and faster. At the same time you are playing the drill you are developing your conditioning, coordinative ones and game understanding.”

It was the first time Barça Academy has come to Whitehorse. Musonda is hoping to continue the partnership because Whitehorse FC is trying to instill the same coaching philosophies.

“The excitement is learning the Barcelona coaching methodology which is renowned for its effectiveness in terms of team play,” said Musonda. “That is what we have as a philosophy as a club, to develop fast attacking soccer players. Barcelona is a good partner for us to learn from.”

Whitehorse FC has a lot of young kids coming through the system, and Musonda hopes to develop them into competitive players who can compete at the highest level in major tournaments.

“We got kids who are turning 12 years old,” said Musonda. “If we partner with them over four years time, by the time these kids go to the Western Summer Games, or the Canada Summer Games or the Arctic Winter Games, these kids are going to be really competitive. And that is what we are really looking for in the territory.”

According to Musonda, soccer in the Yukon is growing. Having two soccer clubs extends the reach of the game, drawing in more kids.

“I’m very happy because we have two clubs in Whitehorse now,” said Musonda. “We have Whitehorse FC and the Select, the two clubs have very good programs and are reaching out to as many talented kids as we can. That helps to broaden the selection for any competition. It is no longer limited to one club running a program for a limited number of kids.”

In the last Canada Summer Games, the Yukon came in tenth. Musonda says the Select took a team to nationals and the team came in seventh in the country, so this shows that the Yukon is doing a good job at developing soccer players.

“You can see we are doing well developing players, but we are also developing coaches,” said Musonda. “We have a real good coach development plan in place, bringing in high- level coaches. We are really pushing the coaching development agenda as long with the players.”

With the opportunities available to the soccer players it is an exciting time for the athletes in the Yukon.

“We are excited, and I think with our talent pool right now they have one of the best opportunities,” said Musonda.

“Through the Premier program, through TSE (Total Soccer Excellence) run by the Select program, there are some good opportunities for soccer players in the Yukon.”

The Barça coaching clinics were just one part of the weekend. Over 500 players took to the CGC as well as the Vanier School gym to participate in the annual food drive and Toonie Tournament. All the food gathered was donated to the Whitehorse Food Bank.

The CGC soccer field and flexihall were divided into three playing surfaces, all were filled throughout the day with players of all ages.

Jordan Keats plays on one of Whitehorse FC’s premier teams.

“Our team got split into three teams,” said Keats. “Now we are competing with the teams from Dawson City and Haines Junction.”

The rec players that put in a toonie or a canned good were split into teams with people they may have never played with before.

As well as playing in the games, Keats also refereed some matches. He said it was a fun time watching the younger kids play.

“It’s fun because you have some control of the game,” said Keats. “Watching them play reminds me when I was a younger player.”

No medals were awarded instead teams were given, most money raised, most non-perishable food gathered and fair play honours.

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