The first-ever Elks Futsal DaRosa Cup turned out to be a big success on the last weekend of May.
Twelve teams participated in the indoor soccer tournament, held from May 26 to 28 in the gym of Diamond Jenness Secondary School.
“It was outstanding,” said Shelley Maher, who was involved in the tournament as a volunteer with Elks Soccer.
“We weren’t sure going in what it was going to be, but it was very high-calibre soccer,” she said. “It was very good quality futsal, or soccer. It ended up being great competition in each division, exciting games, a full house, packed stands, a lot of excitement.”
Maher added the tournament ended up being way beyond what she expected.
“It was crazy awesome,” she said.
Futsal is a variation of indoor soccer that stresses fast play with a smaller, weighted ball that doesn’t really bounce.
The tournament was organized by Elks Soccer and the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games as a test tournament for the international sporting event set for March of next year.
Of the 12 teams, one each came from Yellowknife, Fort Liard and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
In addition, there were two teams in the Under-16 division made up of girls trying out for the NWT team to go to this year’s North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
Maher noted the girls on those teams came from all over the NWT.
“It was a chance for them to get everybody together and get them to play,” she said.
The champions of the Open Mixed division – 16 years of age and over – were the Goalshot Makers from Hay River.
“That one was a great tight game at the end against another Hay River team called the Ballers,” said Maher.
The Under-16 winners were the South Slave Mixed, who defeated a NAIG team in the final game.
“That was an extremely exciting game,” Maher noted. “The stands were packed. It was so loud in there that the ref had to whistle I think as loud as he could. It was awesome.”
Along with other players cheering on the teams, she noted many members of the community were there to support the players.
“It was super,” she said. “It was so neat.”
The Under-12 division was claimed by the Rankin Wolves from Rankin Inlet.
The Elks Futsal DaRosa Cup is named after a 17-year-volunteer and player in Hay River – Daniel DaRosa.
When the tournament was announced earlier this year, DaRosa said it was a “huge honour” to have it named after him.
As a test event for the Arctic Winter Games, the DaRosa Cup tested such things as scheduling, officiating and facilities.