Playing hard for the Games

Deh Cho athletes chosen as alternates for upcoming Arctic Winter Games

April Hudson | Acho Dene Koe/Fort Liard
December 24, 2015
Tyrus Bertrand, centre, was one of the players from Fort Liard who tried out for the futsal team during the Arctic Winter Game trials on Dec. 12. - Walter Strong/NNSL photo

Tyrus Bertrand, centre, was one of the players from Fort Liard who tried out for the futsal team during the Arctic Winter Game trials on Dec. 12. – Walter Strong/NNSL photo

Fort Liard’s Jolan Kotchea has a shot at travelling to Greenland for the Arctic Winter Games in March.

The 13-year-old futsal whiz was picked as an alternate during recent tryouts in Yellowknife on Dec. 12.

That means if any of the futsal team selected for Greenland cannot make it, he can act as a replacement. Kotchea tried out in the juvenile boys category as one of 12 young people from the hamlet’s well-known soccer program. Youth tried out in both juvenile and junior categories.

Hamlet recreation co-ordinator Roslyn Firth said the selection of Kotchea as an alternate is a first for Fort Liard.

“It’s very exciting because no one from Fort Liard has ever been chosen for the soccer or futsal team,” she said.

“It’s a reflection of his ability and skill, his good sportsmanship and fitness – all the things they’re looking for in team members.”

Although Kotchea was unavailable for an interview, coach Sarah Hammond had nothing but praises for his skill.

“Jolan is just a really smart player. He knows when to pass and where to take a shot – he understands the play,” Hammond said. “His head is completely in the game.”

Hammond said the players who went to trials were nervous at first but “got into the groove” after the first session.

“They became more comfortable with the other players,” she said.

Sessions lasted 90 minutes and each player had four. Hammond coaches Fort Liard’s soccer players twice per week and says the team began practising futsal after a regional tryout in Fort Simpson in October.

“We focused on futsal at practice, and we got a lot of futsal soccer balls so we could understand how they work,” she said.

Firth credited Hammond’s coaching for the success of the soccer program and said Kotchea’s selection as alternate could provide him incentive to stay involved with the program.

“Knowing that in two years, there will be another Arctic Winter Games and he’ll still be of an age to try out for the older team, it’s really nice for him to get that recognition,” she said.

There will be another round of territorial trials from Jan. 14 to 16.