A group of young athletes in Fernie are celebrating their success after a very unexpected tournament win over the Family Day weekend.
The Fernie U12 boys soccer team won the championship at a Calgary indoor soccer tournament, without ever having played a competitive game of indoor soccer before.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said head coach Markus Glickman. “These kids have been successful outdoors but this is a different beast. We went up there and played against teams who play in a league so they were playing against teams who play [indoor] weekly and to my surprise and delight, they went 4-0 and won the whole thing.”
Glickman went on to explain that while this team has proven themselves time and again on the grass of an outdoor field, this was their very first time playing indoor soccer in a competitive game.
“It was a pretty impressive weekend for them considering their first game of the tournament was their first game ever in indoor soccer.”
Although the main rules of soccer apply to both indoor and outdoor games, indoor soccer is known for being more fast paced. Glickman noted that the soccer pitch is boarded and that the ball can be played off the boards, meaning there is not really any out of bounds calls. This means that the players are hustling hard throughout the entire game, with player substitutions happening like in hockey. Players can be substituted freely throughout the game, making the games very high tempo.
The tournament, hosted by the Calgary Minor Soccer Association, welcomed over 100 teams in a variety of age groups. The U12 Boys category had six teams and the Fernie boys went undefeated, winning all of their four games.
“It’s always satisfying to see a team implement what we’ve been working on in practice,” said Glickman. “They were not overwhelmed by the moment or the atmosphere and they played well. The comments from the Calgary soccer people were that this is a pass first team with lots of movement off the ball. We play at a high tempo and that’s the brand of soccer that we’re getting known for.”
Glickman has been working with the core group of players for about three years. Both he and co-coach Gary Joynes are constantly impressed with the group of young men.
One young player in particular was singled out at the weekend tournament. Fernie athlete Junah Djonlich was award the Golden Boot award for being the top scorer in the tournament.
Although this was their first game of indoor soccer, the team has been practicing very hard, working to build up their skills for the outdoor season. They’ve been practicing three times a week at the Fernie Community Centre since November, although Glickman noted that the team actually practices year round. The indoor winter training is a way for them to stay fit and prepare for the upcoming outdoor soccer season. They entered the indoor tournament for a bit of a fun challenge.
Glickman called the group of boys “committed” and “accomplished,” adding that they are “an uncommonly mature, team oriented group of kids.”
The team is looking forward to another rewarding season of outdoor soccer and has already booked three outdoor tournaments for the summer. They also might be playing in the Montana State Championship in March.
For now though, the athletes are celebrating their unexpected win and looking forward to playing more of the sport they love in the future.