Even though the climate, currency and the culture of Canada was not familiar to Edgar Musonda when he first emigrated to Canada from Zambia, he felt right at home when he stepped onto a soccer field at a park in Ottawa.
“At first I was surprised to see Canadian children so involved in soccer and going to competitions with equally energetic parents. Then I came to understand that the passion for soccer in Canada is huge,” says Edgar, a specialist in youth sports development, who arrived in Ottawa in September 2011 to live with his Canadian-born wife.
Soccer gave Edgar a common bond that helped him feel comfortable and adapt to his new country. He is a newcomer coach trained through the Ontario Soccer Association’s “Soccer and Settlement program” funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
By joining the program, newcomers are able upgrade their coaching and refereeing qualifications to meet Canadian standards through courses offered in English and French. The program provides a chance for newcomers to establish social networks in their communities when they use their skills to organize soccer games for youth.
So far, the program has produced more than 100 certified newcomer coaches and referees in Ottawa and surrounding communities.
“By participating in the program, newcomers feel more welcome because they become part of a large family of soccer players, coaches and referees in Ontario,” says Javier Clavelo, coordinator of the Soccer and Settlement program. “They’re (newcomers) doing something they enjoy and using their expertise about the sport to help their communities.”
In its first year, more than 650 newcomer youth have participated in Play ‘n’ Learn workshops, Community Cup events and School Soccer Days. After soccer drills and practices, newcomer youth are given an opportunity to learn about Canadian culture and heritage.
Due to its successful first year, the Soccer and Settlement program is expanding to four additional communities in the Ottawa area.
For many years now, soccer has been used to engage youth and foster positive connections between communities in Africa, Asia and Europe. Now, in this pilot program, “the world’s game” is being used to help newcomers to Canada build connections to their new home.
Filed under: Administration, Club Development, OSA News Live, The OSA News Related Posts: Community Cup Festival Ottawa | Canada Women’s Camp Opens In Toronto & Vaughan | New Canadians Connect & Contribute to Soccer In Ottawa | Capital City FC Celebrates CSL Playoff Qualification With Ottawa Newcomers | Voting Opens For CanadaSoccer.com Fans’ Choices |