Edmonton police, students hit the pitch for eighth annual Woodall Cup

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It’s an Edmonton event that was created out of tragedy, but it has become one that brings a lot of joy and fun to those who participate.

The 8th annual Woodall Cup took place at St. Nicholas catholic junior high school on Thursday, pitting mixed teams of elite-level boys and girls and police officers from the Edmonton Police Service against each other in a daylong tournament.

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The tournament is in honour of Const. Daniel Woodall, who was killed in the line of duty on June 8, 2015. Woodall’s love of soccer sparked the inaugural Woodall Cup following his death.

‘Electricity in the air’

“This tournament was born out of tragedy, and it’s bittersweet for me, but today, I just had to close my eyes and listen to the voices on the pitch, there was an electricity in the air,” said Dave Ainsworth, who was close friends with Woodall when they both worked in the police force in the U.K.

“I know Dan would’ve absolutely loved today. He would’ve been right in there supporting those kids cheering them on and also been relentless poking fun at his EPS buddies with some of their moves on the pitch.”

Ainsworth moved to Canada in 2010, and while he didn’t follow Woodall into the police force, the two remained best friends. Woodall had a strong passion for police work, and he loved the game of soccer.

Each year, tournament organizers pick local charities and organizations in need, with much-needed soccer equipment being donated to St. Nicholas Soccer Academy this year.

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Edmonton police chief Dale McFee speaks about Const. Dan Woodall prior to the start of the Woodall Cup soccer tournament between Edmonton Police Service (EPS) members and students from St. Nicholas Catholic Junior High School on Thursday. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

“Dan often spoke of the joy and camaraderie the game brought him, and believed in the power of soccer not just as a game, but to unite people and build friendships and foster a sense of community, something he did so well in his short time with us,” said Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee at the game’s opening ceremony Thursday.

“This game is a reminder of the values that Dan embodied. Dedication, teamwork and perseverance. These are the same values that make a great soccer player, and a great police officer.

Time for reflection

Ainsworth hasn’t missed a single tournament in honour of his good friend. He said the tournament gets better each year, and it gives him time to reflect on memories of Woodall.

Some of the memories Ainsworth has of Woodall include his ability to make a person laugh, whether he was sending good chirps your way on the pitch, or pulling a good prank off the pitch he always made those around him laugh.

“Any time you were around Dan, you’d walk away with an aching face, because he always had you laughing,” said Ainsworth.

“One time he turned up at my office and picked up a bunch of my business cards, and all of a sudden I got a whole bunch of calls, and I found out later, he gave them to a bunch of random people.

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