Seems people think it’s worth the trip to Fort Liard to play some soccer and judging by the numbers, it’s becoming one of the places to go for the beautiful game.
Six communities from two territories took to the gymnasium floor at Echo Dene School for the fourth annual Fort Liard 4-on-4 Soccer Tournament, which wrapped up on Nov. 26. In addition to seven teams from the host community, there were entries from Ndilo, Hay River, Wekweeti, Fort Providence and two teams from Whitehorse.
Sophie Kirby, the community’s manager of wellness and recreation, said the numbers were actually up this year.
“We had 15 teams last year and it just seems to keep getting bigger,” she said. “It’s more work to try and organize it but it’s a good problem to have because it shows just how popular it’s become.”
The tournament was held under traditional indoor soccer rules, which allows for balls to be played off the wall, unlike futsal, which is the way a lot of indoor soccer is going. Every division was co-ed and each team had to have at least one female on their roster.
“I was contacted by NWT Soccer to see if we wanted to use futsal rules but not yet,” she said. “We may think about going with futsal rules next year.”
There were four divisions in play throughout the weekend and all but the U12 division handed out banners. Whitehorse won out in the U14 division thanks to a win over Ndilo in that final while Ndilo got a bit of revenge for the community by defeating Fort Liard E in the title contest. Hay River took a banner down the highway after defeating Ndilo in that final.
As for the U12 division, Kirby said they focused more on practice and fun as opposed to any sort of games.
“It was all teams from Fort Liard and they’re in the skill development phase still,” she said.
When it comes to Whitehorse, this was their first trip to the tournament and Kirby said it was nice to see them leave with a banner but they were also involved in some excitement in the U16 division.
“Whitehorse and Fort Liard were actually tied after the round-robin and had to have a shootout to see who would finish first,” she said.
Fort Liard went on to win it but not the division, unfortunately.
With so many teams in this year’s tournament, Kirby said it’s tough to see how it can get any bigger than it already is.
“I think 20 is probably the most we could host,” she said. “We just don’t have enough room to accommodate any more, unfortunately, and scheduling everything is really tough. But I’m so happy to see how many people want to come here. We’re doing something right.”