The Whitehorse Recreational Coed Soccer League opened applications for this year’s indoor season, and found themselves with a dilemma. The six-team, 92-person roster filled up well before the deadline, with extra applications coming in at a steady rate.
Indoor sports tend to be popular here in the winter. Plummeting temperatures, a gusting Northern wind, and the fleeting daylight combine to make outdoor activity undesirable for many Yukoners.
With Whitehorse’s growing population, the indoor sport leagues have to work to keep up.
This year, Whitehorse Rec Coed Soccer decided to add a seventh team to the roster for the first time in its 14-year history, league executive Hillary Gladish says.
“It had filled up so quickly this year,” she says. “Generally speaking, you start filling up slowly, and then there’s that last minute rush, but this year people were on the ball and it filled up really fast. We usually don’t do waiting lists, but this year we ended up with one that turned out really well in the end. We had 16 additional players – one full team.”
The league emphasizes a non-competitive philosophy that attracts players of all skill levels. Games take place twice a week on artificial turf at the Canada Games Centre.
They also use specially made nets, standing roughly two feet high and five feet across. These small nets were implemented to detour hard shots and emphasize passing and finesse. The league also makes a point not to keep score.
“When the league started they would keep score,” says Gladish. “They had sponsors from different businesses and so they would report in the newspapers, ‘Such and such a team scored this many.’ So you can imagine the level of competitiveness. Then there was a movement – in 2001, I believe – where they moved away from trying to keep score.”
The league is run by a group of eight volunteer executive members. Gladish decided to join the executive this season, after playing in the league for years.
“I love playing soccer,” she says. “I love the social aspect of it and just having an outlet for exercise and stress relief and being physically active, so I figured – you know what – I need to give back to an activity that I really enjoy.”
She first joined the league three years ago, without any prior experience in the sport.
“When I first started I didn’t know how to play soccer at all – no clue,” she says. “My team was so encouraging and offered little bits of advice and feedback, like where to stand and how to make yourself open. I slowly built a repertoire of skills. It’s nice to gel with people.”
She plans to organize skill coaching sessions this season to help other new players in the league who may be starting at the same level.
“There has been a little more emphasis on developing skills,” Gladish says. “Last year we started doing skill sessions, which can be quite helpful to new players, especially if you are starting out and you want to build those skills. This year what we’re trying to do is develop a series, so that you’ll start with a focus on a certain group of skills, and then the next session will be another type of skill, so you can build.”
The next indoor season begins in January, and the league will accept more applications near the end of December. Those interested can check for updates on their website www.YukonSoccer.yk.ca/coed/