AWG soccer turf should be available for longer periods
“The level of interest in the game is very high”
The ability to play soccer on the field turf at the Arctic Winter Games Arena is coming to a close, but the soccer season for the kids who were participating in the camp is just beginning.
As mentioned in the article (Nunatsiaq Online, Sept. 17), 60 young soccer players in Grades 6, 7 and 8, attended the soccer camp and the participants came from Iqaluit, Cape Dorset and Kimmirut.
As the guest instructor, it was both an honor and a privilege to conduct the weekend seminar with the support of special guest coach Amy Vermulen. We were both more than pleased with the response, the effort and the interest for the game of soccer from the kids and the coaches-teachers in the camp.
It was a true pleasure to see the kids actively participating and enjoying themselves all weekend long. The level of interest in the game is very high for the kids, coaches and teachers, who will now continue their preparation for the annual tournament in Yellowknife in April. In addition to this preparation for the tournament on the field, a massive fundraising campaign will take place in order to assure the funds are available for the kids and coaches to make this trip, off the field.
During the weekend, we were supported by three of the local teachers: James, Rob and Joselyn, who worked tirelessly to make sure the kids behaved and that we as guest instructors had everything we required to run the camp in a smooth and efficient manner.
It was during the lunchtime conversations that we learned Joselyn had grown up in the community and remembers fondly making the trip to compete in the annual indoor tournament in Yellowknife herself as a youth.
It is with these memories and tremendous passion that she continues to day to motivate the kids and provide these opportunities for the game to grow and develop. With this in mind, the level of play demonstrated by the kids was positive, as they have passion, natural athletic ability and a ton of energy to burn.
The indoor facility with the field turf in the arena is a positive outlet for these kids to play together, recreate and challenge themselves in a healthy and productive manner.
For instance, one young lad who was not registered for the camp just “showed up” on Friday night for the presentation at the school. He was the first one at the facility in the morning, well ahead of his scheduled timeslot and of course the last one to leave at the end of the day.
During the training sessions he channeled his positive energy into chasing and acquiring the ball, as well as motivating all of the other players around him with his effort and play.
On the second day, again, well ahead of his scheduled time-slot he told us that he woke-up and realized that he had been “dreaming about playing soccer!” It was during the awards ceremony at the end of the second day that I began my speech to recognize players who contributed a special effort over the weekend.
As I was explaining to the group about the unique and special effort displayed by this young lad during the camp, I noticed through the glass that he was back on the field playing while we were trying to recognize him for his efforts. When he was brought back up to the lobby to receive his award for working so hard over the weekend and being such a positive influence, all of the kids in the camp were cheering, clapping and pounding the table to recognize his efforts.
As he walked up towards us to receive his prize, I could see the smile on his face, the skip in his step and it is also when I realized the value of running this camp and the value of providing such opportunities to these kids.
It truly is a shame after the success of the weekend, in which each of the boys and girls trained a total of eight hours over the two days, to learn the facility will no longer be made available to the kids for soccer.
In addition to the support from the kids and the coaches and teachers, a handful of mentor coaches were in attendance to help Amy and me.
Natasha, Jenny, Noah, Connor and Darcy made themselves available to work with the kids in a leadership role during the camp. Each of these young role models demonstrated positive qualities with regard to working with and motivating the participants in the soccer camp to maintain their focus and work hard.
Within this handful of mentor coaches, there are seriously talented youth who contributed to the success of the weekend with their passion for the game and their interest in helping the next generation to improve their skills.
Sadly, the lack of available facilities means that the kids will now play their soccer in the school gym, with less space and far less realism when it comes to the experience playing on field turf.
I write this letter asking the community to consider the value of making the field turf in the Arctic Winter Games facility more available for these motivated youth and for community leaders to keep working with these kids to promote the game and foster the development of positive relationships for youth.
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