It was somewhat of a preview to the Arctic Winter Games futsal tournament when the Yukon and N.W.T. teams squared off on the weekend.
Each of the five Yukon teams representing the different categories played their competition from the N.W.T. at the Canada Games Centre, while there
was a little bit of mixing up the players and age groups for a little variety and fun.
“It was pretty even throughout,” futsal coach Tony Gau said of the different categories. “I know the junior boys were pretty dominant, but other than that I
think it was pretty even across the board.”
Each territory will be sending a juvenile male and female team with players aged 14 and younger, a junior male and female team of players 16 and younger and a intermediate female team of players 18 and younger.
“My intermediate girls team beat their team and they beat us,” Gau said. “It went back and forth and that was pretty much the case for all the teams except the junior boys. The junior boys are pretty dominant.”
All in all, 20 games were played.
Gau noted the head referee for the AWG futsal tournament was also here for the weekend to have a look at the officiating and get a sense of who’s ready to go.
The N.W.T. Games in Hay River and Fort Smith are only the second Games to host futsal, the first being the 2016 Games in Nuuk Greenland. The Games get underway March 18, and futsal is being played in Hay River.
Futsal is sometimes described as a version of indoor soccer that encourages greater ball control, creativity and finesse.
It only began taking over indoor soccer in Canada in recent years, but it was originally developed in Uruguay back in 1930. All of Whitehorse minor soccer teams now play futsal in the winter. Unlike indoor soccer, the walls are not in play but rather the field is defined by lines in the same way a basketball court is, and the ball is smaller and harder. It’s made of foam instead of being inflated with air to reduce bouncing. Veterans of both futsal and indoor soccer say the increased ball control and finesse by players can be seen in the summer on the regular soccer pitches.
Gau pointed out how the weekend was the first time the N.W.T.’s intermediate female team had a chance to all play together.
The team is made up of three players from Yellowknife, four or five from Fort Smith and one from another community.
“They are spread out and this is the first time they came together,” he said.
Gau said his squad includes two players from Dawson, and they’ll be going to Dawson the weekend of March 2 to hold a training camp.
Competing in this year’s Arctic Winter Games is the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Alberta, Nunavik-Quebec, Alaska, Greenland, Yamal from Russia and Sapmi from northern Scandinavia.
The 2016 futsal results in Nuuk were as follows:
• Intermediate Female: The Yukon won silver after dropping the gold medal game 1-0 to Sapmi. Greenland defeated the N.W.T. 4-2 for the bronze.
• Junior Female: The Yukon finished fourth after losing the bronze medal game 5-1 to the N.W.T. Alaska won gold with a 2-1 victory over Northern Alberta.
• Junior Male: The Yukon won bronze by defeating the N.W.T. 5-0 while Greenland won gold with a 2-1 win over Alaska.
• Juvenile Female: The Yukon finished fourth after losing 3-0 to Northern Alberta in the bronze medal game while the N.W.T. won gold with a 3-2 win over Greenland.
• Juvenile Male: The Yukon won bronze with a 2-0 victory over the N.W.T. and Alaska took home gold after a 4-2 win over Greenland.