It was an exciting two days of soccer action at the Canada Games Centre Fieldhouse over the weekend. For the consecutive year, Special Olympics Yukon hosted the Tim Hortons Indoor Soccer Invitational.
The tournament brought teams from Halifax, Vancouver and Thunder Bay, Ont. to Whitehorse to compete against the home team, the Northwestel Charging Moose.
The festivities opened in style, with a great opening ceremony. Yukon dignitaries were the first to enter the field. Then came the athletes, led by the Snowshoe Shufflers. They did a lap of the field to a chorus of cheers from the fans before high-fiving the dignitaries.
There was also a musical act and a performance by the Sourdough Rendezvous Can-Can Dancers.
Before the matches got underway, Charging Moose goaltender Gaetan Michaud said he was excited to have teams from across the country to compete against.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Michaud. “We’ve been working hard since the beginning now it’s all come down to this weekend.”
Michaud’s teammate Michael Sumner echoed the same sentiments.
“Oh yeah I’m excited,” said Sumner.
Michaud said the team planned on feeding off the energy from the crowd.
“The stands are usually full and that’s what we like to see,” said Michaud. “It’s a joy to hear the people cheering. Everyone is here to try to do their best. It fuels us, they support us.”
Michaud said having teams from across the country makes the Charging Moose work even harder on the field.
“One-hundred and 10 per cent,” said Michaud. “Our coaching staff makes us work hard to get where we’re at. We are trying our best and we work hard.
“We have an amazing coaching staff and you can’t ask for anybody else.”
Practice is when the hard work is really put in and Sumner said now it’s time to have some fun. Michaud agreed.
“This is our fun and this is our time,” said Michaud. “Having people here makes us more ready to go.”
Michaud said when the team takes the field together they become family.
“It’s always good to be on the team playing together,” said Michaud. “We are brothers and sisters together, united. One. These guys are my family to lean on.”
On Saturday, the Charging Moose took the field against the Thunder Bay Thunder Wolves. Although the Yukon side dropped the match, Charging Moose defender Sara Lee Edmonds agreed the team put up a solid performance.
Edmonds also agreed that having teams from across the country to play made the games more exciting for her and her teammates.
The Charging Moose’s match against the Thunder Wolves brought all the excitement a soccer fan could ask for.
There were impressive displays of footwork, plenty of goals for either side and the goalies made electrifying saves.
Most impressive was the sportsmanship shown on the pitch. The teams took winning seriously, but they did not let that interfere with building friendships.
The Thunder Wolves finished the tournament on top, followed by the Vancouver Vikings. The Charging Moose came in third and the Halifax Titans fourth.