Field of dreams

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!

Official recognition on and off the field

By Mariah Wilson | February 26, 2016

Now that we’re in full swing, the organization has had a lot happen in the last few weeks. One of our most highly awaited news items happened near the end of last month. As of January 21st, 2016 we are an official charity recognized by the Government of Canada (Charitable #822300596RR0001)! With charitable status, we can now issue official donation receipts for income tax purposes. Please contact us if you believe your past donation(s) can qualify for this!

Over the past several years, we’ve formed strong ties with local community and soccer organizations. Fortunately, some of our players have been able to participate in league soccer through the Cal Glen Club with waived membership fees. So, on behalf of our wonderful partnership with Cal Glen, we would like to extend our enthusiasm in regards to their collaboration with West Ham United, as in, the premiere English soccer league.

“Cal-glen SC will be hosting a West Ham North American Academy Showcase in the summer of 2016. Players will be trained and evaluated by a coach from The West Ham North American Academy. Players who display potential will be invited to The West Ham North American Academy National Camp.” (Source: Cal Glen Soccer Club // February 26, 2016)

Who knows, maybe we’ll even see some of our own players in a national league one day!

Click here to read more about the partnership.

Looking ahead

By Mariah Wilson | January 23, 2016

The new year has been buzzing so far with the excitement of starting up our practices again. Now that the snow is beginning to melt, and the temperature is getting warmer, it’s hard not to look forward to being back on the outdoor field playing soccer. Fortunately, Surrideo Orthodontics has paid for the rental of our indoor gym until March, as we’re all expecting another snowfall before spring!

We have many things to look forward to once the weather gets much warmer and the snow melts, one of which includes our annual summer soccer camp. So far, we’ve confirmed the dates for August 8th-12th, and have a new component that we’ve never been able to offer before. Each child will have a free dental screening for any oral medical concerns, and if any problems are present, they will have access to a fund to receive proper care. We’ll keep you posted on any more information we find out in the meantime!

A heartwarming end to 2015: A year in review

By Mariah Wilson | December 28, 2015

We ended an exciting year for the club on a very high note. Students apart of the Me to We club at Strathmore High School (SHS) organized a Christmas party for children and supervisors alike to enjoy on Saturday, December 19th. A light dusting of snow fell as SHS students arrived in their big yellow school bus with goodies and presents – the spirit of the holidays could not be contained. Having been dismissed from school the day previous for winter break and with Christmas day less than a week away, there was an electric buzz of energy among the participants.

While the SHS students made hot chocolate and set up their stations, one last soccer match was played amongst our participants in the gymnasium. Their cries of delight and laughter were infectious for anyone who watched. The fun continued as our participants were rotated from a gingerbread decorating station to a “dance your socks off” station then to several others, with hot chocolate breaks and storytelling sessions interjected throughout. The big surprise came when Santa Clause made a visit from the North Pole to give each child a package filled with chocolate and winter gear. Soccer Without Boundaries would like to extend a huge thank you to the students of SHS who organized and ran this Christmas party, and we hope that in the coming years it becomes an annual event!

Looking back on 2015, we have some rather notable events to reflect on. During our soccer camp, we received many generous donations that allowed every child to take home a memorable t-shirt and water bottle. With over eighty participants ranging in age from four to eighteen, this was a huge feat. At the end of the summer, we received a donation of eight bikes from “friends of the organization” that wished to remain anonymous. This is a huge asset to our club during the warmer months to allow more children to have the means of getting not only to their Soccer Without Boundaries practices but to their other commitments as well.

In September, Will Ferguson released his highly anticipated novel “Road Trip to Rwanda,” featuring his travels throughout Rwanda with our founder, Jean-Claude Munyezamu. Our year finished with a Christmas party enjoyed by all in attendance, and on Christmas Eve we received news that our organization is in the works of becoming a charity! We cannot wait to see what 2016 has in store for Soccer Without Boundaries, as well as the opportunities for each and every one of our participants.

Summer soccer camp 2015: A recap

By Mariah Wilson | July 25, 2015

Several years since the soccer camp made its first debut, it has become an annual tradition that children look forward to during their summer holidays. This year’s camp took place from July 20th-24th, hosting over 80 participants whose ages ranged from pre-school to high school. Even though the age groups were split up across three fields, you could hear a constant backdrop of coaches encouraging players to try their hardest, leaders sharing inside jokes with their groups, and the whistle announcing a new drill every few minutes.

While the younger age groups enjoyed learning about the sport while creating new friends who shared similar tastes in snacks, the older age groups were able to hone their skills with trainer Calvin Quadros. Before heading abroad to coach in Europe during August, Quadros commented that his role within the camp was a highlight of his summer since he was able “to see the players increase their skillset and gameplay.” Many of the leaders are previous participants of the camp who want to give back to a program that they greatly enjoyed when they were younger.

At the wind-up BBQ hosted during the afternoon of Friday, July 24th, participants and volunteers reminisced about their week and shared some of their highlights with one another. A highlight for one of the camp leaders was being able to “see [her] group have fun and get comfortable [with one another].” I think she spoke on behalf of the leaders as she shared how her group came together as a tight-knit group of friends by the end of the week. But the participants had a much stronger appreciation for the “snacks,” “scrimmaging with their friends,” and “the party at the end of the week.”

We would like to extend a huge thank you to the Mary A. Tidlund Charitable Foundation and Bubbles Car Wash for their generation donations. Not only will participants get to take home numerous memories from their experience at soccer camp, but each participant will be able to keep a soccer ball, t-shirt, and water bottle.

At the moment, the summer soccer camp takes place in only one location in SW Calgary, but organizers are hoping to expand the program to reach all four quadrants of the city.

 

All of the other sponsors of the summer soccer camp include:

  • Brother’s Pizza and Donair
  • Bubbles Car Wash
  • Calaway Park
  • Chianti Restaurant
  • Chop Steakhouse & Bar
  • Cineplex
  • CO-OP (Richmond location)
  • DQ (Lakeview location)
  • Earl’s Restaurant
  • Famoso Neapolitan Pizza
  • The Glamorgan Bakery
  • Heritage Park
  • Humpty’s
  • Joey’s Only (17th Ave. location)
  • KFC
  • Laser Quest
  • Lemon Garden
  • Mary A. Tidlund Charitable Foundation
  • Montana’s Cookhouse
  • Mountainview Bowl
  • Moxie’s Grill & Bar (Southport location)
  • National Restaurant
  • Olive Garden
  • Phoenix Grill
  • Play It Again Sports (Westhills location)
  • Safeway (Aspen, Westbrook, and Westhills locations)
  • Shakers Fun Centre
  • Shoppers Drug Mart (Westhills location)
  • Starbucks (Marda Loop location)
  • Superstore (Signal Hill location)
  • Swiss Chalet
  • Tandoori Palace
  • TD Bank
  • Teaspoon Persian Cuisine
  • Tony Roma’s