Coral Harbour's soccer team looks to raise $40K to attend Yellowknife tournament

A Coral Harbour soccer team needs to raise nearly $40,000, double what last year's team raised, to attend a tournament in Yellowknife.

The Super Soccer tournament draws teams from across Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

Coach Doris Bruce has been taking one team from the community each year for the last four years, but she said the codeshare agreement between First Air and Canadian North has made it increasingly difficult.

"We've never ever had problems in the previous years. Last year the codeshare started, that's when we started having problems. There were no seats available or the prices doubled and we have to overnight in Rankin to get there."  

First Air has said it will be ending the agreement in mid-May, but that is just weeks too late for the team who is supposed to compete from April 26-30.

This year, Bruce is taking the under-14 boys team, which began practicing three days a week in January. The four-day tournament will be their main opportunity to play against other teams.

Last year the Coral Harbour's under-19 boys team made it to the semifinals, winning the tournament award for sportsmanship.

She called the tournament an experience of a lifetime for the kids, many of whom have never been on a plane, left Nunavut, or seen a tree, she said.

"It's unbelievable to see their facial expressions of arriving into an actual city."

In their off-time from games, the team does a bit of sightseeing, goes bowling and has movie nights, but one of the things that worries Bruce is the potential for too much off-time.

Logistics planning 

She called the airline to book flights and found that there isn't enough room on the plane for the whole team — more than two months out — which she says is unusual.

Workarounds would include spending extra time in Rankin Inlet or Yellowknife, but that adds to the cost, expected to be around $40,000 for the team of 11 boys and two chaperones.

That includes meals, renting a bus and hotel, but the lion's share is travel, which Bruce was told would be around $26,000.

The team has been fundraising to cover their costs by planning events including "penny" sales, bingo nights and bake sales.

However, Friday night's bake sale was cancelled as a two-day blizzard in the community caused a three-day power outage leading up to the event.

Bruce says Calm Air, the airline that would take the team to and from Coral Harbour to Rankin Inlet, where they would connect with a First Air or Canadian North flight, has been helpful.

The company donated two system-wide tickets to be raffled off and looked into a charter flight from Coral Harbour to Yellowknife, but that would have cost $79,000.

So Bruce has started looking into cost-sharing with other teams. 

The under-14 girls team is also raising money to attend the tournament with their coach and Bruce is trying to reach out to teams in Rankin Inlet, who have attended the tournament in the past.

She says she's hoping to wrangle the same deal she did from the airlines last year and trying to remain optimistic. 

"We still have two more full months of fundraising to do, so I am pretty confident we'll get there, eventually."