Seven players from Rankin Inlet are joining five from Iqaluit in the 2022 Canadian futsal championships in Gatineau, Quebec this month.

They’re going to be facing some stiff competition in the south. The pandemic has cancelled the last two events, but in 2019, the Rankin Inlet team was outscored 75-12 in four games.

“Passing is probably the most important skill down there and positioning offensively,” said Paulusie Nakoolak, one of the players headed south.

“The teams we challenged (last time), they made us exhausted from all their good passing. We thought it was their endurance but they were the ones making us run instead.”

He and other Rankin Inlet players have been practising regularly this winter. In addition to Paulusie, the Rankin Inlet players headed south are Chad Graham, Airo King, Kris Okpatauya, Jeffrey Niviatsiak, Allen Curley and Nolan Sammurtok.

Futsal is slightly different from soccer, explained Nakoolak. Futsal is played on an indoor court with no walls and uses a low-bounce ball.

“We have four new players I believe that still don’t know the rules,” said Nakoolak. “We’re going to have to explain it to them before we go down there.”

Without setting his sights too high, Nakoolak is hoping the Nunavut team can make progress by competing with teams from the Yukon and Manitoba this time.

“I’m just focused on the teams that we’re trying to beat right now and try to get some sweat in, get my legs going,” he said. “Besides that, we want to have fun too and we hope we keep doing this every year with different generations and try to go higher.”

He would like to see more people get into futsal and soccer, and he encourages people to jump at opportunities to play and go to tournaments.

The tournament is scheduled for April 14 to 17.

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