Etnik Tarakaj tries to win the ball from Marten Sealy during a futsal showcase game on Dec. 7 at Yukon College in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Canadian men’s national team futsal coach works with Yukon AWG teams

“Athletes need to keep on working because they never know who is watching”

It was a busy weekend for the futsal community in Whitehorse as preparations are in full swing for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games.

Kyt Selaidopoulos, the Canadian men’s national team futsal head coach, was in the territory, working with not only the AWG team, but the U17 boys and men’s teams as well.

The three days of training included two sessions with the U17 boys and men’s teams, sessions with each of the five AWG teams, a session with local coaches and a showcase game between the U17 boys team and the men’s team.

No stranger to the Yukon, Selaidopoulos has been visiting Whitehorse since he took the job in 2016.

“You guys are doing some great work up there assembling kids — youth players, men’s players — so the weekend can be a good weekend,” said Selaidopoulos. “I think you guys have progressed a lot in the last couple of years in the numbers playing futsal and all the passionate people, coaches, that are always involved and looking to get better.”

Selaidopoulos explained that it’s a major tenet of Canada Soccer to involve all jurisdictions in the development process, meaning trips to places like the territories take an extra layer of importance.

“We’re always learning, right? I’m learning when I come up there and (Yukoners) learn, so it’s a positive vibe,” said Selaidopoulos. “It’s how we grow — how we grow the game, how we grow as coaches, how we grow as people. I think it’s always good to go to those places and see what’s going on and find out and try to make things better.”

The key, he said, is that the communication has to go both ways.

“We get ideas from the outside (and) put their ideas in the inside,” said Selaidopoulos. “That’s how we’re going to grow the sport and how we’re going to get to the next level of the sport — by helping each other. It’s not by ‘You’re doing your own thing and it’s fine and whenever I need a player I call.’ You need to go see and scratch the surface so you can make sure everybody is on the same page.”

Visits like this are also a way for local players to get noticed for potential spots Outside, and Selaidopoulos said players never know who is in the crowd.

“Athletes need to keep on working because they never know who is watching,” said Selaidopoulos. “I come up there as a futsal coach, yes, but I won’t shy to call one of my colleagues and say, ‘Hey, you might have to take a look at this guy in the Yukon. I think he can be good for soccer.’”

It just takes one break to get the opportunity an athlete might be dreaming of.

“It takes one look and you’re in the mix,” he said. “You’re in the national team, you’re in a pro club, you’re in a provincial or a territorial team — so it’s important for all these kids to keep working, keep pushing and staying fit.”

The Yukon won two medals — a bronze and a silver — in futsal at the 2018 games and will look to improve on that total in March.

The 2020 Arctic Winter Games are March 15 to 21 in Whitehorse.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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