By Mathew Hartley
The Canadian winter brings cruel conditions for college athletes — and the world’s self-styled beautiful game — unless you move the game into a 60,000-square-foot, heated arena.
More than 30 players arrived at Wild Water Kingdom in North York on Tuesday and only had to brave the sub-zero temperatures for a short walk from the bus to the tryouts for the Hawks Indoor men’s and women’s Soccer team.
They play their first game on Jan. 30 against Redeemer University in Ancaster.
The final chance to impress the coaches for most players was the only chance for veteran OCAA player Xavier Wright.
Wrapped up warm and walking to the field, Wright explains his seven-month absence from the field.
His outdoor season ended abruptly because of a knee injury.
The ex-Seneca Sting rookie of the year said he’s now good to go and talked about his love for the game.
“I used to play for Seneca but I’ve been playing since I was five,” Wright said.
Many of the players from the outdoor team tried out, but not all of them will make the cut for indoor.
“Usually only about 15 of our 25 outdoor players carry over,” said Ricardo Fonesca, assistant coach.
The seventh-year coach explained that even though the outdoor and indoor games are similar, there are differences that the veteran players have to handle.
“Someone might not be the best outdoors player but they’re much better indoors and vice versa,” Fonesca said
He said indoor soccer relies more on skills like dribbling and ball control, “in the indoor game you need to be a little more technical, that doesn’t mean that they’re not good players.”
The summer schedule for soccer players is intense and the coaches keep that in mind when it comes to winter.
“The outdoor game we’re going anywhere from three to four times a week and indoor we go once a week,” Fonesca said.
“It’s a softer schedule and it helps our guys stay on track with school. If we ran them that hard both semesters it would be pretty hard for the athlete,” he said.
Moving the beautiful game inside didn’t stop a large turnout of both male and female players at Tuesday’s practice.
With only Captain Dominic Roberts’ name safe to assume on the roster, all of the other athletes will have to see if their showing at the tryout was good enough to get them a spot on the indoor team.