Ninety-four young athletes from the Juneau Soccer Club took to the pitch last weekend at an unlikely Canadian soccer hub.
After a six-hour ferry ride and a four-hour bus drive, 10 girls and boys teams ranging from ages 11 to 14 arrived in Whitehorse, Yukon, to face eight local teams and a team from Dawson City.
The trip is both a big test for Juneau’s sporting youth and a tradition that has bonded generations of JSC players. Whitehorse’s familiarity with futsal-style soccer, a version of the game played indoors with five-player teams and a low bounce ball, has challenged Juneau’s young players to adapt to its fast, footwork-heavy style of play.
Juneau tournament director Carl Furlauto said that the Whitehorse players — who are weather-bound to play inside for a much longer time than Juneau’s youth — have dominated this tournament as recently as five years ago, but that the level of play has improved dramatically in his tenure.
Furlauto credits JSC director of coaching Matt Dusenberry with implementing a consistent philosophy that has allowed players to develop their skills toward a common vision.
In this year’s tournament, according to Furlauto, you can see the results in all age groups, but particularly with the younger teams who’ve benefitted immensely from Dusenberry’s unified coaching directives.