If people thought Kyt Selaidopoulos was going to be someone who would take his practices seriously and make sure they got a good workout, they weren’t disappointed.
The head coach of the Canadian national men’s futsal team wraps up a week-long visit to Yellowknife and Ndilo today, teaching the sport to young and old alike, both on and off the court.
It appears his time was well-received.
This was Selaidopoulos’ first trip to the NWT and he said it was all business out on the floor because it’s all about building the sport.
“It’s important to set high standards everywhere we go,” he said. “Not because some territories or provinces aren’t doing that yet but I believe by setting high standards and making it very professional, it’s going to motivate and get everyone excited about what we want to do.”
It all began on Monday evening with an adult session at St. Joe’s Gymnasium with 18 men’s players hitting the floor for an extremely high-intensity workout with no punches being pulled whatsoever. Over the course of the week, Selaidopoulos has also visited several schools including Weledeh, St. Joe’s, N.J. Macpherson, William McDonald, Range Lake North and K’alemi Dene School in Ndilo.
Hitting the schools was important to Selaidopoulos, especially with futsal in its relative infancy in the NWT. He said it was a great way to get everyone on board.
“We want to create more leagues and more programming and more training for the players here,” he said. “I want to have the territory buy into what Canada Soccer is doing with the futsal program and all grow together. We won’t be able to do it alone and we won’t be able to with just Quebec, Ontario or B.C. We want everyone to buy into the same system.”
The men’s night on Monday was similar to how Selaidopoulos runs his national team training sessions, meaning those who came out got put through the same gritty paces.
And that’s just how Harji Sidhu took it.
Sidhu was one of the players who took in the Monday evening session. He said there was absolutely no sugar-coating of what Selaidopoulos expected to see.
“He was intense but it was good,” he said. “He has high expectations and he presents himself as someone who demands the best of those he coaches. At the same time, there’s no level of failure with him because he wants you to learn. That’s his standard and he’s showing you what it takes to be at the highest level.”
Sidhu has coached Team NWT at both the Arctic Winter Games in 2016 and the North American Indigenous Games this past July, which gives him a good soccer resume.
But he said there’s always more to learn and having Selaidopoulos come was a great opportunity for everyone.
“Getting coached at that level is great because it gives you the ability to connect with kids in a way that’s both positive and demanding,” he said. “It’s important that we take advantage of these kinds of opportunities because it’s not easy to get someone like him here. I know Lyric (Sandhals, NWT Soccer’s executive director) worked hard to make it happen.”
Selaidopoulos takes off for Hay River this evening to be part of the regional development futsal camp there this weekend, one of five camps happening around the territory.
Going forward, he said the NWT has the potential to feature on the national scene in years to come.
“Futsal is the perfect sport for the NWT because the winters are longer here than anywhere else and that means a lot of play indoors,” he said. “There’s the gymnasiums here already and that’s what you need for futsal. The smaller provinces and the territories will help us tremendously in growing the sport and where we want to go.”