Dozens of high-performance youth soccer athletes came out to the Fieldhouse at the Canada Games Centre for an unveiling of two billboards containing a list of college and university Yukon Soccer Association alumni. Their schools were also listed on the billboards.
Jake Hanson, Technical Director of the Yukon Soccer Association (YSA), organized the event.
“This was something we thought we’d try to do for the kids. We’ve got so many young people who are playing high-performance soccer out of the territory now, college, university. And we’ve got twice as many this year than we’ve ever had at one time, with 12 playing out in post-secondary programs this fall. Kind of a new trend are high school players that are making high-performance programs in B.C. and Alberta. 15 years ago we had one and last year we might have had two, and this year, we have like eight. So we just thought it was an opportunity ... both Canada Games boys and girls teams are having Christmas mini-camps with their coaches down south. All the kids are back for Christmas, so we thought this would be kind of fun for them to get together and an opportunity to sort of profile them a little bit.”
Edmonton soccer coaching legend Sean Fleming, the boy’s team coach, and Carli Tingstad, from Kelowna, assistant coach of the girls’ team, were coaching the Canada Games teams’ camps and were in attendance at the unveiling.
The kids were impressed to see the names on the billboards.
“When we first unveiled these new billboards the kids went over to them and they stood in front of it like about 10 minutes and just looking at it and appeared to be completely mesmerized. It wasn’t really what I expected but pretty cool to see them so captivated by looking at those lists of players from the Yukon. In some cases, they’re already on that, and in other cases, they’re probably thinking they want to get on it at some point, so that’s pretty neat.”
Vancouver Whitecaps U23 prospect Joe Hansen (and Jake’s son) was also in attendance. He said it was good to see all the familiar faces.
“Lots of close friends and – pretty much grew up with all these guys, so it’s pretty cool to see them moving on and
playing at high levels now.”
Ben Kishchuk is one of the athletes honoured with his name on a billboard.
“It’s pretty cool to see it there ... just to see all the names that have done it, to know that I’m part of it is pretty cool.”
Kishchuk is in his first year at Dalhousie University, enrolled in Engineering.
According to the elder Hansen, there are about 24 boys on the Canada Games training squad and about 12 of them are based out of the territory. On the girls’ side, about five or six will be leaving the territory after Christmas.
“We’ll probably have a couple months – mid-June to mid-August – to get the teams ready to go and then off to the Games in August.”
The Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games are taking place at St.Catherines, Ont. Aug. 6-21.