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Free Rankin soccer camp a huge hit

Close to 150 kids a day took part in a special three-day soccer camp hosted by the Rankin Inlet Wolves Soccer Association this past month.

Instructor Glen Walker of Winnipeg poses with one of the many groups of youth he worked with to improve their soccer skills in Rankin Inlet on Jan. 20. photo courtesy of Paul Stroeder

Organizer Paul Stroeder said the Rankin association sent in an application to host a camp through the Nunavut Soccer Association.

He said once accepted, they selected Jan. 18-20 to host the camp and brought up instructor Greg Walker of Winnipeg to help out.

"Greg and I put the schedule together for kids from U-5 all the way up to U-16," said Stroeder.

"During the weekend we had a total of about 146 kids every day in groups of U5-7, U7-9, U10-12 and U13-16.

"It was a pretty impressive turnout because we had really cold weather that weekend, but all the parents showed up with their kids – some as early as nine in the morning – so it was a very positive sight to see."

Stroeder said the camp was totally free of charge for all the kids who participated.

He said all the expenses were paid by Nunavut Soccer and the local association took care of the rest.

"All we had to do, really, was secure the gym time and supply the balls and equipment needed to run the camp.

"The kids got to just come out, have fun, and be introduced to the ball.

"It wasn't just about kicking it, but how to handle it and play with it.

"We played a number of different games with the younger kids and, as we got into some of the older kids who are at more-structured and more-technical levels, we got into more about understanding the rules and regulations to futsal, playing position and working on their passing."

Stroeder said there is no doubt in his mind the camp opened the door for another wave of futsal-playing kids in Rankin.

He said younger-aged kids in the five-to-seven and seven-to-nine groups don't have any structure other than what they get at school.

"There's nothing in the soccer associations to get to the younger kids right now, but this is the first step towards doing that.

"A lot of the parents have asked me if this was something I'd hold on a regular basis, so I'm looking at, maybe, holding something every second Sunday morning so the parents can come out with their kids.

"We'll just have some fun associating them with the balls and small-sided games while working on friendships.

"This camp went over really well with the community, and that shows the parents are supporting the kids, who just want to get out there with their friends, learn a little about the game and have some fun."

Stroeder said the Rankin Inlet Wolves Soccer Association will now work closely with the Nunavut Soccer Association to bring future camps to the community.

He said he fully expects, once he writes his report, the Nunavut association will see the number of participants and be very positive about holding future camps in Rankin.

"I'm very positive we'll see more of these camps in Rankin.

"The kids just had a blast, and these camps are the type of thing that can help build our numbers back up in the territorial association."