If the territory’s young futsal players were looking to make an impact ahead of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games, late September was the time to do it.
NWT Soccer wrapped up its regional developmental futsal camps around the NWT on Oct. 1. Five communities, one in every NWT Soccer region, hosted a camp including Behchoko, Hay River, Inuvik, Tulita and Fort Liard. All five of the coaches for Team NWT’s AWG futsal entries were dispatched to one of those communities.
The busiest one by far was in Behchoko with Mark Miehm overseeing things at the Ko Gocho Recreation Complex. He was the only coach who didn’t have to travel as he lives and works in the community.
Miehm said approximately 80 young players from all five age categories – juvenile boys and girls, junior boys and girls and intermediate girls – were out showing off their stuff.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It was a very high standard of play and it was the first time I had to actually be in the new gymnasium and it was well-received by the community.”
Miehm had a tough job ahead of him, but he had help along the way with four people assessing the players in attendance along with Lyric Sandhals, NWT Soccer’s executive director, helping to process the registrations.
“There were 30 or so kids who showed up on the opening day to sign up and Lyric was a big help with that,” said Miehm.
Based on what he saw, Miehm said it was obvious everyone seemed to have the basics of futsal down, even the juvenile players who will be playing futsal for the first time at the Games.
“I know the players who came in from Yellowknife had some extra training before the camp,” he said. “Everyone else, though, had the skill set down and a lot of it is transferable from indoor soccer. If you don’t have the skills, it will show big time, but everyone seemed to have an idea.”
Gina Michel, who will be coaching the juvenile girls team, was in charge of the South Slave region camp in Hay River and said she was impressed with what she saw.
“The level of play has definitely increased and there is a lot of promise,” she said. “There were a lot of younger players out there and some who tried-out last time that I remember and it’s great to see how far they’ve come and how much they’ve improved.”
Justin Doyle, meanwhile, made the trip to Tulita for the Sahtu camp and said it was a small turnout, but that made things a bit more manageable.
One division which didn’t have any players at all in Tulita was intermediate girls but that’s a problem every time the AWG comes around.
“The big thing about the intermediate girls is because it’s the oldest division, a lot of the girls who could have made the team are away at college or university and can’t make it in for camps or tryouts,” said Doyle. “That makes it tough.”
Any player who was thinking about making an AWG team needed to attend the camps in order to be considered for advancement to the territorial trials in December. Up to nine players from each age group and each region will be advanced, but that’s a moving target according to Ollie Williams, president of NWT Soccer.
He said some regions may get more players advanced to help fill the gaps.
“There are the occasional times where a player may not meet the standard a coach wants or there simply weren’t enough players at a camp,” he said. “If that’s the case, we may move more ahead and some regions may get 10 or 11 or even 12 spots.”
Doyle said the coaches sat down on Oct. 4 to discuss how each camp went and determine who and how many would move forward.