The Kivalliq reigns supreme at futsal

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So we all know that the Kivalliq region is hockey-mad and generally turns in a good performance whenever there are tournaments to be had.

But the region is also rather good at futsal and last month’s Nunavut Futsal Championships in Iqaluit showed just how good.

All six titles made their way back to the region as Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove and Coral Harbour won the banners in the championship games on Nov. 17. Rankin Inlet ended up winning the lion’s share of the banners – four in total – while Whale Cove and Coral Harbour each won one.

The girls team from Rankin Inlet took top spot in the Nunavut Futsal Championships’ U13 division in Iqaluit on Nov. 17. They champs are, in front, Tiana Misheralak; middle row from left, Delaine Fredlund, Vestal Netser, Serenity Tatty-Ussak and JoAnn Nauya; back row from left, Susanne Misheralak (head coach), Sophia Kaludjak, Mackenzie Pudlat, Amautilikkaaq Ford, Adoncia Mimialik and Faith Kreelak (assistant coach).
photo courtesy of Dawn Currie MacKinnon

Dawn Currie MacKinnon, executive director of the Nunavut Soccer Association, said the Kivalliq region has historically been strong when it comes to soccer and the territorial championships proved it.

“They always seem to have lots of participation and that’s a big reason why,” she said. “Whale Cove usually sends six teams but only had enough for one team and they ended up winning it all and Coral Harbour always has players that are fun to watch.”

Perhaps the hardest-luck team of the entire tournament was the U18 boys outfit from Iglulik, which won all of its round-robin games only to lose the semifinal to Coral Harbour.

Even in defeat, Currie MacKinnon said they still held their heads high.

“I talked with them after the loss and they were still proud of what they did,” she said. “They felt they could have won the whole thing but there was a lot of improvement with their teams.”

Baker Lake came to the tournament with three teams for the first time, said Currie MacKinnon, while Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay made a welcome return to the tournament.

Something else Currie MacKinnon said was good to see was the lack of blowouts.

“All of the games were close,” she said. “It seems like the communities have really picked up on futsal and that’s all we’re promoting now. All of our indoor programming is futsal now so they play futsal by default because that’s what the teams will see when they come to territorials. You see it in Europe where players start with futsal and they become great players. It’s certainly helped to grow our players.”

Among all of the excitement of the tournament was one big achievement: every team made it in to play. For the first time in five years, no team missed out due to planes going mechanical or weather-related issues.

“This was the first time that’s happened since I’ve been involved,” said Currie MacKinnon. “We had 300-plus kids all make it in so I was doing the happy dance.”

The weekend’s action also served as the selection event for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games, specifically the U13 and U15 divisions, and while the teams are set, they aren’t ready to be published.

Currie MacKinnon said the reason is that some of those who were chosen still haven’t declared their intention to play futsal and were involved in other tryouts late last month.

Posting the rosters wouldn’t be fair, she added.

“There were some kids playing in the hockey tryouts (in Rankin Inlet) and basketball (in Cambridge Bay),” she said. “We’ve asked for them to make their decision (this) week and we know we’ll lose some to those other sports.”

The rosters should be ready to go later this week, she said.

FACT FILE
Nunavut Futsal Championships results

U13 girls
Champions – Rankin Inlet
Runners-up – Iqaluit

U13 boys
Champions – Rankin Inlet
Runners-up – Kugluktuk

U15 girls
Champions – Whale Cove
Runners-up – Rankin Inlet

U15 boys
Champions – Rankin Inlet
Runners-up – Coral Harbour

U18 girls
Champions – Rankin Inlet
Runners-up – Iqaluit

U18 boys
Champions – Coral Harbour
Runners-up – Rankin Inlet
source: Nunavut Soccer Association

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