By Stephen Priel, For Ottawa TFC Soccer Club
The province-wide lockdown to start 2021 was indeed a downer, but the competitive spirits of Ottawa TFC soccer players continued to burn strong thanks to a contest featuring “player-athlete-person” development challenges.
The uniquely-designed virtual programming used Google Classroom to keep score as teammates competed with one another to earn the most points possible – awarded for a wide range of activities and actions that kept players mentally and physically sharp while they were away from the pitch.
“The kids just ran with it. It was insane,” reflects Ottawa TFC General Manager Pavel Cancura. “They really wanted to win. Some of them were tripling the points that we thought even the best player would get. They were doing everything under the sun, every day. I guess they got competitive.”
For training, players each had to complete a fitness program that included running, strength, core and stamina work. They’d also logon for team sessions featuring social, mental and tactical skill development.
Players would also score points for tracking their sleep, stretching, and submitting their meal plans, or explaining something they learned at school, and completing chores to help their family or community.
At the conclusion, the club tallied up the final standings and had an awards presentation for the top performers in each age group.
“I was surprised and amazed when I was told I won the award,” recounts U12 boys winner Theo Stevenson. “here are so many good players on my team that I was competing with.”
U12 girls winner Katy Russell says she drew inspiration knowing the hard work all her teammates were all putting in.
“Even on days when I didn’t feel like doing something, I did it anyway and it felt good to complete the challenge,” Russell indicates. “I was really excited and happy to win.”
Audrey Costa and Jeremy Besner were crowned winners of their respective U11 girls and boys categories, while Lyla Coghlan and Sawyer Rog were recognized as standouts at the U9-U10 level.
Academy players and teams in U13 age level and above also kept active with online programming during the dead of winter, though everyone throughout the club nonetheless celebrated a return to in-person training come late February.
“It was a long lockdown for everyone,” Cancura highlights. “We are beyond grateful to have run Virtual Training for our members to keep players active and engaged. But we are even more grateful to be heading back onto the pitch!”