Local family takes lead in developing Christmas Cup online event

Taylor and Walker Castle are hard at work developing the website to support the annual Christmas Cup Soccer Tournament.

Taylor and Walker Castle are hard at work developing the website to support the annual Christmas Cup Soccer Tournament.
Candace Keene

On Dec. 2, the annual Christmas Cup Soccer Tournament will kick off at the North Pole and online. The game is free and kids can register online at www.northpolesoccer.com. 

North Pole Soccer is an interactive story that follows a group of elite soccer elves as they compete in the annual Christmas Cup Soccer Tournament. After registering, families will join forces with the “North Pole United” soccer team and help them as they face off against other North Pole soccer clubs. 

Children can take an active role in managing the elf teams. They are tasked with reading scouting reports, devising a game strategy, baking the team snacks, and much more.

Walker Castle is a fourth grader at Magnolia Elementary School and a true believer in Elfin Soccer and all things Christmas. For the first Christmas during the pandemic, his mom, Candace Keene, bought a soccer outfit for his Christmas elf named Rufus. She included a note about how the elf loved to play soccer at the North Pole and the rest is history. 

Walker, an avid soccer fan and team player, took this idea and ran with it. Fortunately, his dad, Taylor Castle, had a lot of skills from his career as a commercial photographer and director to help make the website a reality.

“Seeing Taylor not just take on a shared amount of responsibility in that manner, but take it to such a level and create something unique and magical is truly the best gift of all,” Keene said.

“Walker has always been a practical believer, so having a website and messages delivered from the team really brought the magic to life for him,” Taylor Castle said. 

Taylor and Walker have been such enthusiastic fans of the North Pole Soccer movement that they were “recruited” by the elves to help spread the fun and even develop game strategies, storylines, and additional characters. With the help of illustrator Carlitos Pinheiro, they have really been able to bring these stories to life.

Carlitos (www.carlitosilustra.com) is a freelance artist and illustrator based in Brazil who loves to create vibrant drawings that bring enchantment to children and adults alike. 

“I’ve loved drawing since I was a child and I never imagined that I could make a living from that passion,” Carlitos said. 

After falling in love with his style, Taylor reached out to see about working together. Taylor said the collaboration has been a hit and Carlitos has “exceeded my expectations with the visuals he created to bring the characters to life.”

Walker continues to create ideas, give feedback, and spread the word to his friends and community, including his own Seattle United soccer team. And last year, he did a full presentation to his class about North Pole Soccer.

 “I love North Pole Soccer and am really excited that other kids can now join,” Walker said.

What started as some little backstory for the elfin downtime has turned into an elfin soccer movement involving kids from all over the world. For the first soccer tournament in 2020, Walker was dreaming that he would be able to visit the North Pole to attend the games in person and even help coach the team. Through the magic of the internet, kids can participate now while waiting patiently for the eventual completion of the North Pole Stadium. 

Walker’s parents have not only run with the idea to publicize the tournament, they have created custom jerseys and pajamas, soccer patches, trophies, and lots of insider information to help the experience feel real. The reactions from their son have made it all worth their while.

This year, kids and families from all over can join in the fun at www.NorthPoleSoccer.com. And in the future, the family would love to develop a children’s book and a line of branded merchandise to help spread the joy of the Christmas Cup Soccer Tournament.