Whitehorse Daily Star

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MAKING THE MOVE - Callum Wood-Ryan (left) is in his second year with the i2i International Soccer Academy in England, left. Right: Tyler Milton.

Two soccer players jump across the pond

Jake Hanson, the head coach for the Yukon Selects men’s team last season

By Dustin Cook on October 20, 2017

Jake Hanson, the head coach for the Yukon Selects men’s team last season that recently competed in the Canadian Club Championships, said the level of soccer talent in the Yukon is very strong for a population of it’s size.

“Kids are starting to realize because so many before them have gone onto the higher levels that it’s possible,” he said.

This is true for two young Whitehorse players who trained under Hanson at Total Soccer Excellence Academy in Whitehorse.

Callum Wood-Ryan has already crossed the pond to play for an elite soccer academy in England and in September his longtime friend Tyler Milton will be joining him at the i2i International Soccer Academy.

Playing under coaches who used to play the professional game in England, Wood-Ryan said the game is much more physical and faster than what he was used to back home.

Wood-Ryan is currently in his second year attending the soccer school in conjunction with continuing his education at York St. John University attached to the program.

Milton, on the other hand, is still in his final year of high school in Whitehorse and will be making the leap after graduating.

He just finished playing with the Yukon Selects men’s team, at the age of 17, becoming the youngest player to represent the team.

“It was incredible to witness the ability that some of these guys have,” Milton said of the older players he was up against. “It was a huge honour to play in the tournament, the highest level of amateur soccer.”

Hanson, his coach in the tournament and for several years before that, said Milton was a really solid starting central midfielder for the team in the tournament.

Scouted by the academy at a tournament, Milton said he had the chance to go to England in the summer and had the opportunity to train and play a couple of games.

“Soccer over in England is like a culture,” he said of his decision to make the move. “They live and breathe soccer everyday.”

Milton said he spoke to Wood-Ryan about the opportunity and decided it would be a good plan after hearing only great things.

But before then, Milton hopes to play for the Yukon Selects men’s futsal team this winter as they hope to represent the territory at the national championships.

Wood-Ryan has at least one more year to go and is currently studying sport science at the university.

He spent the summer in Vancouver as part of an internship working with professional athletes.

The dream is to advance his soccer career professionally, but Wood-Ryan said he has a vested interest in strength and conditioning coaching which also helps him with his own training.

Milton too has aspirations of playing professionally, that the school in England has the high-level play and connections to work towards that goal.

“Ever since I was a kid I wanted to play professional soccer, since I was four or five,” he said.

Moving to higher levels of play is becoming more and more common in the territory Hanson said with three players also currently playing in the Canadian post-secondary system.

“Since 2000, we’ve had close to 60 go play post-secondary,” he said.

Hanson said seeing players from the Yukon getting these opportunities will encourage others to make the jump and soon maybe more players will be joining Milton and Wood-Ryan in England.

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