Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Marissa Tiel

HIGH KICK – Genc Tarakaj slides to the ground with a high kick on the net during a co- ed soccer game at Vanier Catholic Secondary School last night.

Numbers low; spirits high at co-ed soccer games

Walk past the Vanier soccer fields on a Monday or Wednesday night this summer and you’re likely to get recruited into the Whitehorse co-ed soccer crowd.

By Marissa Tiel on May 26, 2016

Walk past the Vanier soccer fields on a Monday or Wednesday night this summer and you’re likely to get recruited into the Whitehorse co-ed soccer crowd. Especially if longtime player Rob Bousquet is around.

“I’m with the Jehova’s Witnesses of soccer,” he says jokingly. “I’m going to recruit you.”

Bousquet has been playing with the group since 2001.

“It’s gotten more organized over the years and the turnout has been better,” he says.

Not so much this season, with the number of registered players hovering around the 70 mark.

That means there can be about four teams made for the outdoor season.

The outdoor season officially started last week with drop-in games while registration was still open. Last night the season was supposed to kick off with organized teams, but due to the rain, organizers opted for another night of pick-up soccer.

As players started walking into the soccer fields behind Vanier last night, the rain that had dampened Whitehorse all day lightened up. And those that arrived were prepared for the weather.

One man hung his backpack on the fence and covered it expertly with his rain jacket. Another brought along a king-sized clear plastic garbage bag. A few players talked about their experience in southern Ontario, with its amplifying humidex.

Players started warming up and eventually were divided into teams: white shirts versus rainbow shirts.

The game started and players tested out each other’s skills.

Everyone’s reasons for attending are different as well.

For John Kisida, it’s an informal form of fitness.

“It’s good for cardio, which I haven’t done for a long time,” he says. “It’s nice to do something to actually get yourself back in shape which is not too physical.”

As the ball is kicked back and forth across the pitch, it’s more about playing than winning. Players get more excited over the three beautiful passes before a goal than the goal itself.

When someone scores, they are rewarded with goalie duty.

Just over halfway through the night Tom East finds himself in net. It’s his second summer playing.

“It tends to be a pretty casual and fun inclusive league,” he says. “You can just play at whatever level you play at and it’s usually pretty good. People don’t tend to get too worked up about the score or whatever else. They’re just out to have a good time.”

He looks out at the field from the net and sees a lot of familiar faces, but also a handful of new ones. By the end of the summer, he says, there’ll be a core group.

With other commitments it’s hard to show up every week, and that’s why the teams are bigger, to account for those summer vacations and canoeing trips.

“They make the teams big, so you don’t have to worry about missing a game and letting your team down,” says Bousquet. “People have other things to do during the summer... so the teams are big enough to account for that.”

All playing levels are welcome. Playing with those who know the rules or how to play the game isn’t a big deal for East.

“I’m more interested in playing with people that are out here to have a good time,” he says. “Whether you’re good or bad at soccer, it’s your attitude that counts.”

The rain lets up and those brave souls who showed up are even rewarded with a little bit of sunlight.

Some players come in later, warming up on the sidelines before jumping in to play.

The league is non-contact.

“So you can usually show up for work the next day,” says Bousquet.

“You don’t have to worry about injuries.”

There were a couple close calls last night however, a couple head-down headers and one spectacular hard ball to the face. All parties walked away unscathed.

Those interested in joining the outdoor league can find it on Facebook at the Whitehorse Recreational Co-ed Soccer League.

Last night everyone had a foot on the ball.

“If your skills aren’t very good, then the other players adapt to it, “ says Bousquet. “So it’s very welcoming and we’ll recruit you too.”

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