McCauley Soccer Scores!
“You have a kid from Iraq, a kid from Dubai, a kid from Ghana, and a soccer ball. They don’t need to speak the same language. Soccer is the universal language.” – Ricardo Casanova, founder of YEG Soccer Society.
A Google search results in countless quotes about soccer being a universal language. It’s become a bit of a cliché. But like many other clichés, it exists because it’s true. And that truth has been on display this summer on the soccer fields of McCauley.
On a beautiful evening in July, 150 people were at Giovanni Caboto Park, with most of them there to enjoy the soccer program. By August, 70 kids between the ages of 2.5 and 14 were registered. Nothing reflects the vibrancy of a neighbourhood quite like children playing in a park while their families meet, make new friends, and share stories.
McCauley’s soccer program is free and accessible to all, regardless of background, economic means, or age. The program features weekly Tuesday evenings for kids, and Sunday afternoons where adults and kids drop in to play together. And lending more meaning to the slogan “Meet Me in McCauley,” the program welcomes participants from nearby communities like Alberta Avenue and Parkdale, as well as more distant communities like Lessard.
The driving force behind this year’s soccer program is coach Allan Suarez, who also works with Free Play for Kids (formerly Free Footie) – the program that gave Bayern Munich superstar, Alphonso Davies, his start! Coach Allan’s approach balances kindness and inclusion with the teaching of core skills. “Every child deserves a space to play with others and to explore movement, speed, and agility in a safe, inclusive environment,” he says.
Logistical support from the McCauley Community League has allowed Coach Allan to devote his attention to the kids on the field. And he has done so with passion and patience. “The children, youth, and volunteers have shown enthusiasm and hard work,” he says. “The families and community leaders have been supportive as we look for ways to build a permanent program.”
A permanent program is the direction in which Coach Allan and the McCauley Community League intend to go. They are exploring opportunities for the program to continue indoors through the fall, winter, and early spring.
Coach Allan and the MCL Board extend their gratitude to all the parent volunteers who have helped make the McCauley summer soccer program a success.
Alice is the President of the McCauley Community League Board.
Mark is the Program Manager for REACH Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Organizing Initiative.