The weather lately in Yellowknife hasn’t exactly lent itself to outdoor training.

Huw Morris, seen during the Soccer For Life camp at the Fieldhouse this past weekend, took his Canada Summer Games boys soccer team to Ventura, California for a training camp in preparation for the Games in Winnipeg this July. – photo courtesy of NWT Soccer

So if you can’t train outdoors, something which you have to do when you’re getting ready for the Canada Summer Games in July in Winnipeg, you head to a place where it’s a bit more palatable.

That’s what the boys soccer team did as it made the trip to Ventura, California earlier this month for a 12-day training camp with the Ventura County Fusion program and it was as full as you could get.

Huw Morris, head coach of the boys team, said he has no doubt the boys had the experience of a lifetime during their time down south.

“The idea was to get them on the outdoor field and break every rule in sport science methodology that I’m a part of,” he said.

The broken rule was having two sessions per day or practice, broken down into using functional phases of play and small-side games in the mornings and going over more technical plays in the afternoon. Sandwiched in between the training sessions were a total of six exhibition games against teams in the Fusion program.

Morris said all of the games were as well-matched as they could have been and they weren’t blowouts by any means.

“Very competitive and all within a goal or two (in the final score),” he said. “That means we were matched well against very good technical teams, which enabled us to take the inputs and process the thoughts quicker, which in turn makes these lads far better players both organizational-wise and decision-making on and off the field.”

The training sessions included work with guest coaches from the Fusion program and they put the players through the ringer with plenty of skill development work.

“The astounding part is that when you create the environment, the learning will come,” said Morris. “Having the ability of the guest coaches coming out, working with the lads in both goalkeeping and in field sessions and the hospitality of the Fusion organization, it’s been world-class. I’ve had the luxury of playing the game and the luxury of travelling to many parts of the world but seeing this down there was very heartwarming.”

The players were also impressed with how things went, especially Josh Beland, who will be making the trip to Winnipeg.

He said the boys were working hard and things were a lot different down there than what they were used to back home.

“We only get to train outdoor two months a year so it’s a good experience for us to practice for the Canada Games,” he said. “It was a great experience to see parts of the world that you might not get to see and I’m very fortunate to get that experience.”

Bonding together as a team was a big thing, he added, and that was evident as the boys got to take in some of the sights and sounds of the area and even had a paintball game together.

But Beland said the competition was the big thing because it allowed to get better and be more prepared for what awaits them.

“We’re always playing better teams and it allows us to practice on what we need to when we play teams at Canada Games,” he said. “Teams like Ontario are going to come at us hard so it’s good to practice on teams like that.”

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...