England may have lost to Croatia at the World Cup in Russia last week but in Rankin Inlet’s first ever mens futsal tournament, it was the three lions who were crowned champions.
The Rankin Inlet tournament featured five teams with players from Iqaluit, Baker Lake, Arviat and Whale Cove, who were not only playing for a title but also a chance to represent Nunavut at the futsal national championships in 2019.
In the finals team England ended up defeating team Portugal 6-3 in a tense final that saw lots of back and forth in the action.
Portugal got off to an early lead going up 2-0, but England came back and equalized with two goals of their own.
Portugal responded right away to make it 3-2 on the next play. Then, right before half time England tied it up. The game remained tied for the better part of the second half until England got a go-ahead goal. Two late goals from the side gave them the cushion they needed to secure victory.
“It was a very tight game. Both teams wanted it really bad,” said Chad Graham, who was on the winning team in addition to being one of the tournament’s organizers as well as its top scorer.
While the taste of victory is sweet, Graham said the focus of the tournament was to select a squad to represent Nunavut at the nationals.
In April, Rankin Inlet sent a squad to compete at the tournament for the first time. As Graham put it the team ended up doing “very poorly.”
Graham said the experience is what motivated the Rankin team to invite players from all over the territory to build a dream team that’s more competitive.
“A town of 3,000 isn’t going to compete with Ontario or even Manitoba or Quebec when they make the all-star team.”
In total 22 of the players who took part in the tournament were selected to be part of the team that will compete in future tournaments including the nationals and a new upcoming tournament in the Yukon scheduled to take place in November.
FACT FILE: Tournament awards
- Top goalie : Joseph Hamilton
- Top defence : Seamus Ayaruak
- Top forward : Ian McDonald
- Most sportsmanlike : Isiah Ignerdjuk
- MVP: Jayko Ashoona
- Golden boot award: Chad Graham (10 goals )