With a flourishing co-ed league in place, an over-35 men’s league growing by the season and a competitive men’s league established, adding another adult soccer league in Whitehorse would seem to be an idea destined to fail.
Not so. In fact the newly-formed competitive co-ed league has quickly become one of Whitehorse’s most popular.
Even more surprising is the man making it happen.
Geoff Woodhouse didn’t even begin playing the “beautiful game” until six years ago, when he was 45.
“What happened was I started coaching my son in Whitehorse minor. I felt if I was coaching the game I should know how to play it,” explains Woodhouse.
“I started playing in the co-ed recreational league and then with the over-35 men’s. Eventually it just snow-balled.”
Today it is fair to say Woodhouse has become a soccer fanatic. On any visit to the Canada Games Centre indoor turf, you are likely to see him there.
The sport occupies most of his free time, whether it is refereeing, serving on various boards, or lacing up the cleats and going in net.
“I’m involved with the sport at least three or four times a week,” smiles Woodhouse, while sporting an Arsenal Fly Emirates sweatshirt.
“It chews up as much time as I have. Any more and it would be a divorce.”
Even Woodhouse admits he has a hard time coming to terms with just how big a part of his life the sport has become.
“I never thought I’d be expecting, or for that matter enjoying, getting Arsenal soccer gear for Christmas. Or goalie gloves for that matter.”
The latest soccer project Woodhouse has taken on is organizing a new competitive soccer league in Whitehorse for men and women.
Originally it started with just two teams set up strictly by word of mouth and through players Woodhouse knew or had been approached by.
It quickly grew to four sides and Woodhouse says if not for the fact the league is set to wrap up for the indoor season, even more teams could be added.
“There has already been a lot of active lobbying and people asking what are we going to do for next year and what are we doing over the summer,” smiles Woodhouse.
“It’s a nice combination of good male players and very strong women. And the fun we’re having hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
The four teams are all sporting almost identical records, not that it has much significance, as there are no plans for playoffs.
Woodhouse says that’s not the intention of the league, pointing instead to the inclusiveness everyone involved seems to have.
“No one gets upset when new people show up, no one is saying, ‘Hey that’s not fair, you can’t pick him up’,” said Woodhouse.
“People enjoy the fact that the more experienced players are bringing new skills to the game and the fact the female players are consistently strong which really makes for a good game,” he adds.
“The great thing is the men play the women like they would other men because they know if they don’t they’re going to get burned.”
As for the league’s future, right now the plan for this summer is to have at least two teams, but Woodhouse is optimistic there could be as many as four.
“If the interest continues to be there we’ll make it happen.”
Spoken like a true fanatic.