The Yukon will be represented this week by three teams at the Canadian soccer club championships.
The Yukon Selects Soccer Club is sending teams to the men’s, U15 boy’s and U15 girl’s tournament.
The girls U15 squad began play at 12:30 local time in Calgary today against Ontario’s representative from London. The boys U15 team, also in Calgary, was scheduled to kick off the tournament at 3 p.m. against an old rival, Mountain United from Vancouver’s North Shore.
The men are in Vancouver and will be facing Manitoba in their first game Thursday.
U15 girls coach Arnold Hedstrom explained in an interview Tuesday afternoon preparing to play the best team in Ontario out of 100s, perhaps thousands, requires an understanding of who you are facing.
It’s difficult to start a national championship against the biggest provinces, he said.
He said his squad has prepared physically. They understand the technical aspects of the game and they’ve worked hard to make sure their defence is the sharpest.
Their goal heading into today’s game was to take the game in five-minute chunks, to keep Ontario off the score board five minutes at a time.
“That is my goal in our game, to keep them off the score board as long as possible,” he said. “Also, to tell them you have to be in the moment. You have to forget the last one minute, the last five minutes. It’s the next five minutes that is important.”
Hedstrom said half a dozen or more of the team members experienced the national stage at the Canada Summer Games in August.
“They know what they’re up against,” he said of his Selects. “They are prepared for it. They are glad to be here.”
Coach Ash Jordan of the U15 boys team said their first game this afternoon is against an old rival that they’ve had mixed success against.
Mountain United is a strong, strong team with a bunch of strong lads who are fast, he said.
Jordan said it’s always tough playing against clubs who’ve spent the season playing in high performance leagues, as has Mountain United, the B.C. U15 club champion.
But the Selects have matched up well against them in previous years, and they know how train for them and get themselves ready, he said.
And the local boys will be seeing a familiar face when they take to the pitch this afternoon, only he’ll be wearing a Mountain United jersey.
Ole Heath is a Haines Junction boy who played goalkeep with the Whitehorse squad for the last few years, including in the nationals last year. But he’s moved to B.C. and is sharing time in the net with you know who?
Whether Heath will start this afternoon against his former teammates is unknown.
But the local lads are ready.
“We know him,” said Jordan. “All the boys grew up with him. We know his style, it’s a little rivalry.
“With all respect to the kid, he is a great kid and he deserves to be where he is, that is for sure.”
Men’s coach Jake Hanson said this morning from Vancouver they’ve got a bye today so they’ll have a chance to watch the games between the other four teams in their group – Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario.
Just like the U15 squads, the men also lack the game time the other teams will most certainly bring to the pitch, he said.
But, said Hanson, you never know who the team to beat is.
Smaller provinces have won the national championship, teams like Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan, so you never know, he said.
Hanson said the players on his Selects range in age from 19 to 38, with the exception of one F.H. Collins Grade 12 student, Tyler Milton, the youngest player ever to represent the territory on a men’s team.
The teams they’ll face will likely have a more concentrated age group, probably between 20 and 30, he said.
“We haven’t had a lot of team time together but we have lots of guys with experience, college, university, Canada Games,” said the coach. “We have lots of experience, so it will be just a matter of coming together as a team.”