By Lori Beattie | March 27, 2016
It’s true, if you build it, they will come.
The first two months knowing the Alsaeid’s has been full of newness, of learning (English and Arabic) of learning Canadian systems and cultures, and of how we structure our lives with appointments and schedules- so foreign for the Alsaeid’s. The kids are all in school and the parents are studying English in daily classes; a full-time pursuit at the moment. There are challenges and obstacles, but that is when we as sponsors step up to help. We are not only friends but we are here to help navigate systems, to find resources, to figure out the next step.
My latest and most uplifting success happened yesterday. Rewarding is an understatement. It was pretty much the best day ever watching soccer coach and creator of Soccer Without Boundaries, Jean Claude Munyezamu set up a new soccer program for any and all refugee and newcomer kids who live in or near the NE of Calgary. I contacted Jean Claude a week or so ago and asked him if he could start of NE soccer program since his only program was in the SW and transportation was an issue. Jean Claude and I met last week and he said, “when should we start?”. My response was an enthusiastic “right now, this week”, so together (along with his team of coaches and trainers, and both of our volunteers and a translator) we made it happen.
As Jean Claude says, soccer is the universal language and through soccer, these kids learn discipline and how to find success and happiness in Canada. “Most of the time kids from refugee camps don’t like rules, but they respect soccer rules. Everyone understand yellow card and red card. Having coaches and trainers is the best way to reintroduce discipline to kids. I will bring one coach, he played professionally. I have another friend who use to coach Portuguese national soccer team, I will bring him next time. ” – Jean Claude
What he does for these refugee and immigrant kids is gives them confidence through soccer, teaches them discipline through soccer and gives them a focus and purpose, a place to belong, friends and FIFA certified coaches and trainers to make it real. They are on a team.
Kids came from around the neighbourhood, since once the balls are dropped, kids show up. Soccer shoes are donated and provided for the kids to take home. They are told to come back next week, every week, all summer until the snow flies and the program moves inside for the winter.
A special thanks to volunteers like Victoria Morgan who brought post-practice oranges, gear and her can-do, get it done attitude. Victoria not only makes things happen but she keeps everything upbeat.
By Lori Beattie
p.s In case you do not know of him, Jean Claude is the main character in Will Ferguson’s latest book called “Road Trip Rwanda”. Great book, be sure to add it to your spring reading list.The NE soccer club runs every Saturday at 2 pm in Vista Heights School park.
All newcomer kids, all ages of kids, are welcome!
It is FREE and soccer shoes provided. Tell one, tell all!