Soccer season comes to a close in Iqaluit
“Soccer is developing at an increasing rate”
The artificial turf at the Arctic Winter Games arena in Iqaluit will soon give way to ice.
The last soccer balls were kicked around on its surface Sept. 16, when the popular Nunavut Soccer Camp closed out Iqaluit’s summer soccer season.
More than 60 boys and girls between Grades 6 and 8 jumped at the opportunity to learn from coaches Amy Vermeulen, a former Vancouver Whitecaps women’s player, and Shel Brodsgaard, a former under-18 Canadian national team coach.
Both flew to Iqaluit to help coach the camp over the weekend, where kids learned everything from conditioning to basic skills like passing and shooting.
And demand for learning these soccer skills is growing in Iqaluit, camp organizer Joselyn Morrison said. The camp was filled to capacity despite being the first year of the event.
“It would be great if we could make this an annual thing,” Morrison said. “[Soccer’s] getting more popular, and with the turf and access to the turf, it’s a greatly positive thing for our city, I really believe it.”
The soccer camp, sponsored by Nunavut Soccer Association, gets funding from Sport Nunavut, and through fundraising efforts.
The price charged for attending the camp helps the sport’s popularity as well. It cost $10 a head to join the camp, and unlike hockey, little equipment is needed other than basic running shoes.
But it isn’t just the camp that has raised soccer’s profile. The indoor sports field at the AWG which hosted the Northmart Timbits program, has led to more kids signing up for fall minor soccer held in the Nakasuk School gym, says Iqaluit’s recreation director Amy Elgersma.
“The kids who have been playing at the Northmart Timbits program wanted to remain in the soccer program and we’ve noticed a huge increase in most of our age groups in the fall,” Elgersma said.
“People are extremely happy that they have another venue to play in, and soccer is developing at an increasing rate,” she said.
And for Vermeulen, soccer teaches more than just fitness and footwork.
“For me growing up, it wasn’t just about the soccer,” Vermeulen said. “It was about forming relationships with teammates and having fun and being confident in who you are as a person, and being able to take risks and try new things.”
“I think that’s one of the main things that hopefully we can get across to the kids, to just be confident in who they are, stay positive, work together and hopefully a lot of those general things as well,” she said.
The indoor sports field will be removed starting Sept. 17 to make way for this month’s Nunavut Trade Show, then ice will be installed during the second week of October.
But Amy said the $150,000 artificial turf will be back next year for a second season.