Mayo, Dawson look for community soccer support

DAWSON CITY Since at least 1993, youth soccer organizers in Mayo and Dawson have demanded more support from the Whitehorse-based Yukon Soccer…

DAWSON CITY

Since at least 1993, youth soccer organizers in Mayo and Dawson have demanded more support from the Whitehorse-based Yukon Soccer Association.

At this weekend’s annual Dawson-Mayo tournament, Bernard Menelon restated what has been a contentious issue for the 20 years he has organized Mayo soccer.

Grassroots support for the game will only be realized when the Yukon Soccer Association sends certified instructors into the communities to train players and potential coaches.

“If you had a guy tour the communities twice a year, then you get the kids interested, the parents interested,” he said in an interview Sunday.

“If the support is there, that’s the way it develops. But if you don’t do anything, nothing is going to happen.”

Dawson Minor Soccer president Irwin Gaw echoes Menelon’s concerns.

Gaw said he has been trying to get the association to send an instructor to train players and coaches for the past four years.

“They’ve even offered to send them up, but then they never follow through, he said. “If we could get some clinics up here for skill development, that would help a lot.”

Both Gaw’s and Menelon’s frustrations have boiled over in the last decade. They say they’ve witnessed soccer mushroom in Whitehorse yet fail to keep pace in the communities.

“We’ve gotten little support from the Yukon Soccer Association outside of the Yukon Soccer championships that they put on,” said Gaw.

“They do a great job of that tournament, but that’s about all they’ve done for us.

“Under the past president, there had been a decline in community support. While they work tirelessly in Whitehorse, they have not lived up to their mandate to develop soccer in the Yukon communities.”

Gaw looks at Dawson minor hockey and sees the positive results that the association has had bringing in ex-NHLer John Chabot to work with the players and coaches during the last two winters.

“All the kids idolize him. The coaches get to watch what he does. Everybody feeds off of it.

“If you get somebody like that with soccer, it would be great, but we get brushed off.”

Menelon shakes his head when he considers past communication between Whitehorse and the communities for soccer-event organization, which is always held in the capital.

“If knew about a coaching clinic two months in advance and have Yukon Soccer pay for the room, people would come,” he said.

“That’s how you develop the sport. Now, you get a call on a Thursday: ‘Oh, we’ve got a clinic this weekend if you’d like to come. People have a life — we’d have to drop everything to go to Whitehorse.”

Better organization and communication would eventually result in better soccer in the communities, they said.

But, in reality, soccer in the communities seems to be thriving.

At last year’s Northwestel Yukon indoor soccer championships, 46 teams entered the competition from Whitehorse and 25 were from the communities, which is more than one-third of the total teams.

Haines Junction entered four teams, Teslin one.

Atlin fielded three teams, Watson Lake two and Mayo five.

Dawson entered a whopping 10 teams.

In last weekend’s tournament, close to 200 players competed from ages seven to adult.

On top of that, under Menelon’s tutelage, Mayo youth soccer has won many Yukon championships since he started the program in 1985, including a run of 10 years a row between 1986 and 1996.

“When there were more kids in Elsa, There was Mayo A versus Mayo B in the Yukon Soccer championships and Whitehorse didn’t like it at all.”

That is when the Whitehorse soccer brass began to take development of the game more seriously, said Menelon.

“They changed the rules steady. They used to always complain. There was always arguments.

“They really improved their program and brought the level of soccer up. They have good coaches now. Twenty years ago there was not much there.”

Gaw and Menelon both appreciate what has been accomplished in the big picture — getting the sport off the ground in Whitehorse, creating the new Canada Games Centre field and organizing the Yukon indoor and outdoor soccer championships every year.

“They do an excellent job of the Yukon soccer championships and that’s the highlight of our year,” said Gaw.

But they both see no reason why soccer’s development cannot continue as quickly in the communities as it does in Whitehorse.

Although Dawson’s indoor program attracts many players, the level is not strong.

Mayo’s U-16 team beat one of Dawson’s U-15 teams 25-0 on the weekend, and won each of the U-11, U-13 and U-15 divisions by wide margins.

“The kids need better development in their skills,” said Gaw.

“We’ve been running a fun program here, but as they get older, that hasn’t paid off.”

He said training the volunteer coaches — most of whom have limited experience coaching or playing soccer — would bring the level up over time.

And he wants Whitehorse to send them north because the communities pay fees into the Yukon Soccer Association for these privileges.

Whitehorse may be listening.

Two local instructors Dave White and John MacPhail, received national coaching certification last year.

They have started hosting clinics in the communities.

MacPhail is going to hold a three-day clinic in Dawson in March to train coaches and increase players’ skills.

He credits new YSA president Brian Gillen with getting more active in supporting the communities.

“It’s good to see new leadership and we are looking forward to more support in the communities. It’s hard to change the way things have been done for many years”

MacPhail said it’s “up to the communities” to get organized and bring him or White in to work with the players and coaches.

He also credited Gillen for taking an interest in soccer in the communities.

“Brian has been real good to see that the communities are well looked after.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Togo member Katie Moen sits in a sled behind a snowmobile for the ride from the airport to Chief Zzeh Gittlit School. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Coming together: How Old Crow became one of the first communities in the world to be fully vaccinated

Team Togo and Team Balto assembled with a mission to not waste a single dose of vaccine

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. If council moves forward with bylaw changes, eating and drinking establishments could set up pop-up patios in on-street parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Patios may be popping up in Whitehorse this summer

City considers program for downtown restaurants and bars

The Yukon Coroner's Service has confirmed the death of a skateboarder found injured on Hamilton Boulevard on May 2. Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News
Whitehorse man dies in skateboarding accident

Coroner urges the use of helmets, protective gear, while skateboarding.

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Most Read