Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Morris Prokop

EYE ON THE BALL – Jaylie Johanson keeps her eye on the ball as it goes over the net during the Futures girl’s program at CGC on Sunday.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

GREAT GRIMACE – Kieran Gormley grimaces as a shot flies past him during the U9 program at the Canada Games Centre on Sunday. The program was part of the Toonie Tournament, which gathered 10 bags of non-perishables and raised $700 for the food bank.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

KICKIN’ IT – One of the boys attempts a shot on goal while two players try to defend him during the U9 program in the Fieldhouse at CGC on Sunday. Nathan Ross is bringing up the rear in support.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

MAKIN’ THE SAVE – Lucy Brown makes a save during the Future’s girl’s program at CGC on Sunday. The program was part of the Toonie Tourney in support of the food bank.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

DIVE BALL – Madeleine Smith dives for the ball during the Futures girl’s program at CGC on Sunday.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

ON THE BALL – Henry Skelton has complete control of the ball during the U9 game.

Toonie Tourney gathers food and raises funds for the food bank

The annual Toonie soccer tournament took place from Friday to Sunday at the Canada Games Centre (CGC).

By Morris Prokop on December 3, 2021

The annual Toonie soccer tournament took place from Friday to Sunday at the Canada Games Centre (CGC). Each player in the tourney was expected to bring a toonie for the Whitehorse Food Bank. Non-perishables were also collected for the food bank.

Jamie McAllister was there to watch his daughter Maggie, 7, play in a U9 event in the Fieldhouse on Sunday afternoon.

“My daughter’s pretty excited,” related McAllister. “This is her first time playing on the big pitch.”

His daughter has been playing for only four weeks.

“We’ve had a couple folks step in to do some coaching and they’ve been great,” added McAllister.

Mark Ross was there to watch his seven-going-on-eight-year old son Nathan play.

“He signed up for (indoor) soccer this winter, and it’s the first time on the turf,” related Ross.

“He’s been playing soccer for about two years. We moved here from Vancouver Island, where there was a bit more of a season, but here taking advantage of the indoor season is a good thing to have.

“We started on the Island, and now he’s taken to it here as well,” explained Ross.

“As he (McAllister) mentioned, this is the first time they’ve been on the turf. There’s a lot of kids, and with COVID space requirements, they’ve been in one of the school gyms, so today is kind of exciting for them.

“The kids are definitely – they’re enjoying it,” added Ross. “They’re getting out, they’re getting active, which is important during the COVID crisis. With COVID, there’s been a lot of changes, but we’re taking advantage of what we can do during this time, and it’s good to keep them active and ... get exercise indoors.”

McAllister and Ross were able to join their kids on the pitch for a fun game at the end of the U9 session.

The final event of the tourney was the girl’s Futures program. Elise Bingeman was one of the coaches for the event.

On Sundays she helps coach the Futures program, an all girls program with a pretty wide range of ages.

“We’re trying to build the program for girls ... giving a sense of community, giving the girls an opportunity to play together,” explained Bingeman.

“Often, to get enough numbers, the programs are co-ed, and so this is just a chance to get all the girls out together – a wide range of ages, so that the younger girls can get mentored by the older girls and the older girls have the opportunity to act as leaders and kind of develop coaching skills of their own,” said Bingeman.

The age range of the 13 girls that showed up at the Futures program was roughly nine to 16.

“Some of them will just play,” said Bingeman. “Anytime there’s an opportunity – they just love the sport. So I think it just means a lot for them, to just have a time and a place to come and play, work on their skills. And then others are still learning and still developing.

“I think it’s really important to build a sense of community. We have some really awesome coaches as part of this Futures program.

“We usually do a couple of activities with them, to work on skill development, and then we might play a full-field game if we’re lucky, which is exciting ... to have enough people to be able to play on a full field is kind of rare,” she added.

Toni Darker, 11, who has been playing since she was “very young”, was one of the participants.

Darker said she had fun at the event. She said she came “because I like playing with other girls.”

Lucy Brown also had fun. She was out there “because I love soccer and I signed up for it.”

She added an emphatic “yes!” when asked if she wants to play for a long time and play professionally.

The coach running the program on Sunday was Megan Lanigan.

“It was really good having all these girls coming out, and they’re all doing fantastic; really nice seeing them support each other and play really good soccer and have fun while doing it,” she said.

Lanigan explained what the program is trying to achieve.

“I think the goal is just to keep people engaged in soccer and encourage young women to become leaders through the use of sport and having everybody just kind of support each other on and off the field.

Just getting young women to be encouraged to be leaders ... on the field and off the field ... it’s kind of creating a positive community for young girls and women playing soccer.”

As for the future, Lanigan said she thinks the girls have a bright one.

“Anything they want. If they want to continue at soccer, they’re gonna be great at that. If that want to do other sports – it’s all about just creating confidence ... carrying the confidence that they learn here to school work, and to just their daily lives ... these young women are incredible, and already I’m seeing that they’re going to be some great leaders in their community.”

Travis Banks, office administrator of Whitehorse United FC and Toonie tourney organizer, said the weekend went well.

“I think with the restrictions that were in place, we managed it pretty well and had good turnouts ... we’ve got a good amount of cash and food for the food bank, so I think it was good.”

Banks was happy with the turnout.

“Yeah, it was good. It’s so hard to know how many people are going to show up but I think, for the most part, we had a good turnout and lots of good soccer.”

When asked how much of an impact the current COVID state of emergency had on attendance, Banks replied “it depends on the age group. I think the youngest age groups who aren’t vaccinated, I think there’s a lot more families who weren’t comfortable coming out, which is totally fair. But we just wanted to make sure that we put on soccer for those who were interested. Some of the younger age groups were a bit lower than expected, but what can you do about that, really?”

Banks said there were no medals handed out this year.

“We’ve gone away from medals for the past couple of years ‘cause really it’s more about fundraising for the food bank than anything.”

There were no official results kept, either.

“We didn’t even have referees this time. We just let the coaches get the players, and we had to mix up teams, because sometimes only four kids from one team would show up, and 12 from the other team, so there were no official tournament rules or standings or anything like that. It was just a for-fun soccer festival.”

Banks added a big thank you to the CGC staff for their help with the tourney.

“They were really easy to work with us in terms of the setup needs and capacity and things like that.

“Thank you for everyone who came out. It was a good little event.”

The Toonie Tournament garnered 10 bags of groceries and $700 cash for the Whitehorse Food Bank.

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