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Growing the game
Adult soccer tournament off to solid start in Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Adult soccer got a big shot in the arm when the annual Sakku First Adult Soccer Tournament was launched in Rankin Inlet in 2012.

NNSL photo/graphic

The two-time Sakku First Adult Soccer Tournament female champion S&G KickARS squad is Diane Kuksuk, Germaine Tatty, Amy Siusangnark, Ujaralaaq Karetak and Adriana Kusugak, back row from left, and Amy Ikakhik, Hilary Tulugak, Sharon Sateana, Tracey Lindell and Toota Tatty, front row from left. - photo courtesy of Amy Siusangnark

The inaugural event attracted an impressive 19 teams, with each of the three Nunavut regions represented.

While Mother Nature decided she wasn't a soccer fan in year two, with bad weather striking numerous communities across the territory on March 22 tournament weekend, the event still went ahead with five teams in both the male and female divisions.

The Rankin Inlet S&G KickARS squad took the first two female crowns, while Iqaluit won the first men's title and Rankin FC the second.

Tournament coordinator Kandace Kusugak said she wasn't surprised by the popularity of the event, because so many people play soccer while in school.

She said there were always a lot of people wanting to play soccer in Rankin, but nobody was willing to take it on for a number of years.

"Once we got space at Simon Alaittuq School and got it going, it really picked up," said Kusugak.

"We always have a good group of players who attend soccer regularly.

"When we started the adult tournament, we were still playing against the people we grew up challenging in the regionals and territorials.

"Towns like Iqaluit also attended and, even though it was a mix of age groups from the other towns who attended, everyone had still challenged each other at some level over the years."

Kusugak said soccer is a popular sport in Nunavut, and it was just a matter of time before a community took on the challenge of hosting an annual adult tournament.

She said, hopefully, other communities will follow Rankin's lead and do the same.

"Not only is soccer a great sport, it's a great opportunity for you to have a healthier lifestyle.

"Every bit of exercise helps, and, if your town has a soccer league, you get to go out and play soccer for at least two hours every week.

"The weather being so bad and keeping some teams out was a little disappointing this year, but the tournament was still a success and we're

looking forward to next year."

Kusugak said the third annual tournament will probably be held in May this coming year, in hopes of better weather and, also, to avoid the school year and other sports.

She said Nunavut Soccer was a main funder in the event's first year, but each community was left on its own to fundraise for 2013.

"You want as many people as possible to attend your tournament, but it's difficult when a lot of players are out for school and others have commitments to events like the Northern Hockey Challenge.

"If we have it later in the year, we're not competing with hockey and volleyball

tournaments on the same weekend.

"January to April is so busy, sports-wise, and people just can't take off every weekend from January until April to play in tournaments.

"Yes, there's camping and fishing, but May still has more down time and soccer players are pretty committed to their sport."

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