Close to 30 teams and hundreds of players flooded Hay River last weekend for the annual Elks Outdoor Soccer tournament, with home teams holding their own against visitors from Yellowknife, the Deh Cho and the South Slave.
While teams from Yellowknife’s Ecole St. Patrick won many divisions, teams from Princess Alexandra and a combined team from Diamond Jenness Secondary School and Ecole Boreale took top spot in several categories.
“It’s been spectacular,” said Chandelle Leonard, who played for Princess Alexandra School on Saturday. “The best was when we won our game!”
Teammate Madison Beck said she was looking forward to trying to win a banner for their school, but more than anything, enjoyed playing soccer with her friends and testing their skills against other teams.
“We need to get better at spreading out and passing,” she noted, adding the final game held Sunday would hopefully see the team play better together.
Games were held for two and a half days straight at Tri-Service Park, and the Diamond Jenness Secondary School and Princess Alexandra School fields. Parents and volunteers crowded the sides of the pitches at all three to watch students from schools from all over the North compete in a variety of
The tournament is always a highlight of sports events in Hay River, but perhaps even more so this year, with Elks Soccer set to continue through the winter for the first time. Organizers have plans to keep teams going inside throughout the season with the hopes of a more organized league manifesting itself next summer.
“It’s always tons of fun,” said coach for Ecole Boreale, Kim Ivanko. “We wouldn’t do it if we couldn’t laugh.”
She also noted that while there seemed to be fewer teams than in previous years, the event was just as high-energy and well-run.
“There’s been some great soccer played so far,” she said, joking that they could have charged parents $100 per head for them to watch. “It was end-to-end action and the kids played really well,” she said of a Boreale game against Princess Alexandra.
With only the two local schools in that particular age category, players weighed in on playing with and against some of their best friends.
“It’s kind of awkward getting to play against them like this,” said Conner McKay-Ivanko. “You get to try to push past them and beat them during the game, but then it’s all good off the field after.”
His sister, Helene McKay-Ivanko, said she liked playing against Princess Alexandra and her friends on that team, but was most looking forward to playing centre in the finals the day after.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I just want to keep playing.”