Stretching Out: Ready To Kickoff The First Canadian Grasslands Cup
With Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) Futsal entering it's third official year as a sanctioned varsity sport, for the first time this weekend, Manitoba is preparing to welcome teams from Alberta and North Ontario to the first Canadian Grasslands Championship this weekend hosted on the campus of CMU.
The sport of futsal is a form of indoor soccer officially endorsed and recognized by FIFA, the global governing body of soccer. Played on a court, futsal is high speed, five against five soccer that is fast and flowing.
"We have really seen a community of supporters fall in love with the sport on our campus," said Athletics Director Russell Willms, who also serves as convener for the sport for the MCAC, "it isn't only the athletes who are playing it, but people who have otherwised been turned off by seeming slower speed of outdoor soccer."
The Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference is one of two college athletic conferences in Canada who have adopted the futsal version of indoor soccer as a varsity sport. The Alberta Collegiate Athletic Conference has been playing futsal for half a decade and has recently seen the format for all forms of indoor soccer in their province move to the FIFA endorsed form of the game.
"With our relative close proximity to Alberta and as the only two conferences playing futsal, it seems clear that in the future we need to develop a way for our teams to compete in a combined championship," explained Willms, "Ideally this will be a tournament that will take place in March, at the end of our individual conference competitions where MCAC and ACAC teams must qualify to compete for the championship, but for now we start with an open tournament and hope it will grow interest in moving even further; to a true Central Canadian College Futsal Championship."
This weekend, CMU will host the Ambrose Lions from Calgary, the Brandon Bobcats, Red River Rebels and Lakehead ThunderWolves from Thunder Bay in a tournament that features a women's pool and men's pool consisting each of four teams.
The CMU women were eliminated in the semi-finals of last season's Copa de la Paz (the MCAC Futsal Championship) by the team that went on to win their second consecutive championship, Providence. The CMU men captured their first Copa Championship in 2015, defeating USB in a thrilling championship final. Both teams feel that they have good chances of finding their way into Sunday's Grasslands Cup Final.
The action gets underway with round-robin matches Friday evening and all day Saturday and will end with consulation finals and a Women's and Men's Final on Sunday, when the first Canadian Grasslands Champions will be crowned.
MATCHDAY #1, FRIDAY NOVEMBER 20
6:00PM CMU v RRC (Women)
7:20PM CMU v RRC (Men)
8:40PM AMB v BU (Women)
10:00PM AMB v LU (Men)
MATCHDAY #2, SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21
10:00AM BU v CMU (Women)
11:20AM LU v CMU (Men)
12:40PM RRC v AMB (Women)
2:00PM RRC v AMB (Men)
3:20PM RRC v BU (Women)
4:40PM RRC v LU (Men)
6:00PM CMU v AMB (Women)
7:20PM CMU v AMB (Men)
MATCHDAY #3, SUNDAY NOVEMBER 22
10:00AM Consolation Women's Final
11:30AM Consolation Men's Final
1:00PM Canadian Grasslands Women's Championship
2:30PM Canadian Grasslands Men's Championship
DAILY ADMISSION IS AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR:
$3 ADULT DAY PASS
$2 SENIORS (+65) & YOUTH (12-18)