BURLINGTON, ON — When you think of Newfoundland what do you think of? Certainly you think of beautiful scenery, moose, seafood, and St. John’s. Well there is a lot more to Newfoundland than that and Burlington Youth Soccer Club (BYSC) is now part of Newfoundland.
Last year, BYSC parent, Kathy Bond came to the club asking if there was anything we could do to help out the community she grew up in. In 2009, BYSC came through with a number of uniforms, and gently used equipment to ship over to the eager young soccer players out east. These gifts in 2009, helped to establish modest programs in Isle aux Morts and Burnt Islands.
For 2010, Kathy asked if there was more the BYSC Board and staff could do to help really establish the game more throughout Newfoundland. The kids wanted to play and needed more help than just uniforms, so with the help of Adidas, Burlington Hotel Association, Factory Shoe Outlet, ATC, Tim Horton’s and many other sponsors, Play it Forward was born to help meet the needs of communities in Newfoundland. As part of the initial Play it forward campaign, BYSC sent staff members out to work with parent volunteers to help establish soccer in the region even further from June 11-15.
General Manager Peter Summers helping fit the players with new boots
The staff (namely, Judy Griggs, Denis Leece and Rod Hickey) spent 10-15 hours a day for three weeks organizing all the donations, getting coaching books put together, etc. The build-up to this was enormous and was very much worth it.
Over 130 players came from seven communities around Port aux Basque. All the players were given the equipment so generously donated by the community of Burlington and our sponsors. These kids were over the moon to receive shoes. They honestly couldn’t believe that these were their shoes. I was asked constantly about where the shoes have to go at the end of the day! Not only did they receive boots, but they also received shin guards, and socks to practice with, and full kits to play in.
Coaches Chris Keem, Denis Leece, Rod Hickey, Paul Burns, and Peter Summers, ran clinics on very basic dribbling and passing/receiving sessions, while Judy Griggs, Robin Rogers, Michelle Gomes, and Meghan Smith organized the uniforms and equipment for all of the players. It was fantastic to see the old ball field transformed from a small little softball field to a bustling soccer facility. We managed to squeeze seven pitches in a 60 x 60 yard area! Kids from ages 3-16 enjoyed the best weather of the year so far (we were told that a lot that weekend and it was wonderful weather as well) and had a great time. Playing 3 v 3 up to 7 v 7.
View of the old ballfield Tournament
Sunday was tournament day. The kids were broken out into teams according to age groups and we broke the old ball field into seven soccer pitches. The players were so excited when they received their kits, I can’t say enough how amazing it was to see their faces. They literally wore their kits around all evening, and some even to bed I was told the next day!
Jason Hann of Isle aux Mort is now in charge of the program there and they are planning on playing tournaments throughout the summer with the communities that you helped establish soccer in during this Play It Forward campaign. The groups have been practicing twice a week, but the kids are out on the old ball field playing on their own two to three times a week he said.
We were even treated to a lobster feast from the parents, they took up a collection during the games and bought us a lot of fresh lobster to eat. It was fantastic to have that. The people in the Port Aux Basque region of Newfoundland were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and they treated us with such hospitality that we can not thank them enough for the opportunity.
Being involved with BYSC and helping to grow soccer across Canada is something that we should feel very proud about. Hopefully we can continue to assist communities in Canada and bring in some of the bigger clubs in the Country and our governing associations (Ontario Soccer Association and Canadian Soccer Association) to get this program to grow.
It all starts here with us and let’s continue the good work! There are more pictures on our facebook account, www.facebook.com/burlingtonsoccer
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