More than 300 top soccer players from across Canada are in Saskatoon this week vying for the title of best amateur club in the country.
Canada Soccer’s Toyota National Championships Jubilee and Challenge Trophy tournaments are being held in the Bridge City over Thanksgiving, with games kicking off Wednesday behind the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre.
“This is the cream of the crop when it comes to amateur soccer,” said Lee Kormish, tournament chair.
Eight women’s soccer teams, including the Saskatoon-based SK Impact, will compete for the Jubilee Trophy while the men’s side Saskatoon Revolution will spar with nine other sides for the Challenge Trophy.
The tournament works in a round robin format, with the teams divided evenly between two groups. After playing every other team in the group, the top finishers will compete on Monday for the national titles.
This year marks the sixth time Saskatoon has hosted the tournament.
Kormish said the competition gives the Impact and Revolution a chance to showcase their skills to the broader community, while also helping generate interest in bringing higher levels of soccer to the city.
He said with attempts continuing to introduce a Canadian Premier League team to Saskatoon, a tournament such as the national championships is key.
“We just need to get the excitement going in this city and this tournament does that,” he said.
Kormish added there’s an economic benefit to the tournament, with the players and staff visiting from coast-to-coast filling three downtown hotels and eating out at local establishments.
‘Goosebumps’ to compete for the title on home turf
Local players are excited about the opportunity to play for a national championship at home.
Jordian “Chico” Farahani, the captain of the Saskatoon Revolution, said the team has been working hard to prepare for the stiff competition by reviewing video clips of their opponents.
The 28-year-old centre-back, who played 22 games in Iceland in 2017 before returning to Canada, said he won’t be the only one with an international background.
“Most of these teams have former professionals,” he said.
“Fans can expect to see a very high level of soccer.”
He added there’s a lot of pride in playing on home turf.
“I get goosebumps,” Farahani said. “The last time I played a big tournament at home was when I captained the Huskies men’s soccer team to the 2014 Canada West title.”
The Canada Soccer Toyota National Championships wraps up Thanksgiving Monday with bronze and gold medal matches between the top finishers in each group. The full schedule can be found here.