Special Olympics Yukon hosted their annual invitational soccer tournament at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse this past weekend.
It was the first time the group organised an in-person event for its members since the pandemic hit in 2020.
"It's satisfying to be back at it and it's exciting for our athletes. They haven't had this chance in two years," said Serge Michaud, the CEO for SOY.
In previous years, the three-day tournament invited teams from across Canada. However, Michaud said this time, only British Columbia teams were invited to reduce the risks that come with travelling across the country.
"We didn't know what things were going to be like when we started slowly planning this tournament," said Michaud. "I'm not going to sit here and say that we're out of the woods with regards to the pandemic; but we're certainly in a place where our athletes can be athletes."
Four British Columbia teams – Coquitlam Vipers, Abbotsford Thunder, Nanaimo United and Quesnet Fury – played against the Yukon's Northwestel Charging Moose.
Although Yukon's team finished in 5th place, one Old Crow-born player, Edward Kaye, stole the show, especially during Saturday's morning game.
"I was feeling quite confident because I had all my teammates," said Kaye, who's been a member of SOY since 1989.
Coquitlam won the game 11-3 but all of the Yukon team's goals were scored or assisted by Kaye.
"We just lost a game, but it doesn't really matter who wins or who loses. It's just coming out there to have fun and to make friends," he said.
Kaye even received an MVP recognition.
"It touched my heart. I didn't even know my name was going to be called. I thought it was going to be one of the other players," he said shortly after the Coquitlam coach approached him to share the big news.
The tournament had a few cheering spectators, some of who travelled all the way from Dawson City, about 500 kilometres away, to support their family friend's kid.
"It means a lot, actually, that this young woman can be involved in a community where she really feels like she belongs and has fun," said Maureen Caley-Verdonk.
Michaud said there will be more SOY events open to the public in the upcoming weeks.