The brand new Yukon Futsal Metro League kicked off Saturday evening at Vanier Catholic Secondary School.
Futsal, which has recently taken the country by storm, is taking off in the Yukon and the Yukon Selects and Yukon Metro Soccer League created the league to develop the game for larger and national tournaments, league organizer Ash Jordan said.
“It has just been growing and growing every year and we just realized that we need to have an actual league for it,” Jordan said.
The coach for the men’s national team has come up a few times, Jordan said, and some of the players have caught his attention.
“He’s got his eye on a couple of guys up here so in order for him to actually approach people we need to be playing in a properly sanctioned league,” Jordan said.
The new league, currently sitting at four teams, plays Saturday evenings at Vanier. Jordan said the league is garnering more interest every day and they hope to be up to six teams by the end of December.
Right now, two of the teams represent the Yukon Selects U16 boy’s team, which Jordan is the coach of, that recently competed in the outdoor soccer Canadian Club Championships for the Yukon.
The Yukon Selects men’s team is another team playing in the league.
Tryouts were recently held for this team that is planning to compete in tournaments culminating in the national futsal championships, which is going into its second year.
“Last year was the first year,” Jordan said. “Hopefully this year there will be more but we’re kind of getting in on a ground level.”
The Selects also held an Open House ID camp for youth players at the end of October.
This was a chance for players born between 2001 and 2006 to meet the coaches and show their skills. Over 60 boys and girls took part.
The new futsal league is a collaboration between the Yukon Selects program and the Yukon Soccer Metro League, which is still running its indoor soccer league Friday evenings.
But futsal, played on a hard floor gym court, is a different kind of game.
“It’s played on a smaller surface with the basketball court as boundaries,” Jordan explained. “The game itself is much more technical and faster than soccer and indoor soccer.”
Jordan said this makes it better for developing soccer skills in youth. The game is also played with fewer players with four and a goalie on each side.
There are no nationals for the youth levels, but the U16 Selects team will travel to tournaments in Richmond, B.C. in December and Anchorage, Alaska in February.
The players will also look to make the territory’s Arctic Winter Games teams. Jordan, who will be coaching the boy’s junior team (born 2002-2003) at the Games, said the territory will have five teams at the Games in the divisions of boy’s junior and juvenile and girl’s intermediate, junior, and juvenile.
The Yukon took home three futsal medals at the 2016 Games.
Trials for the teams will be held Dec. 2-3 at Vanier.
The transition to futsal has been fairly easy for the players, Jordan said, and really allows them to work on and demonstrate their skill. Speaking about his U16 players, he said this style fits them perfectly.
“They were built for this game,” he said. “They’re one of the most technical group of kids I think we’ve ever had come through the Yukon so this is just right up their alley.”
The futsal league will have its second week of games this Saturday with action underway at 5 p.m.