Throughout July and August, we’ve been delighted to work with the Catholic Centre for Immigration and the Ottawa Police Services diversity unit to host the CCI’s Youth soccer program. Sixteen teams from various newcomer communities faced off in a world-cup style tournament over 6 weekends culminating in the grand final at TD Place last week.
Karen Molina, Youth Program Coordinator Community Connections with the CCI explained the importance of the program and its goals:
“What the Catholic Centre for Immigrants wanted to accomplish through the youth soccer programs was to bring communities together through sport and promote a healthy and active lifestyle in the new communities through a sport that is universal and familiar to most youth newcomers.
The league was set up to provide an opportunity to play in a safe space, and in an organised competitive environment. When Ottawa Footy Sevens donated the field at Immaculata to host all 62 games together in the same location throughout July and early August, it made the logistics of the league that much easier and brought all of the communities together in one place where they could intermingle together along with the community volunteers and Ottawa Police Services Mentors recruited by the Ottawa Police’s diversity unit. To have it hosted in such a wonderful facility in central Ottawa (along with hosting the final at TD Place), reinforced the message to newcomers in Ottawa that they are wanted, that they are welcome and that they are part of a wider community in Ottawa.
Every week we were able to provide a positive experience for more than 240 youth newcomers, young men 15-25 yrs. of age not only through participation in their sport but in the promotion of the positivity of involvement in their new community in Ottawa.”
We can’t take credit for creating the tournament, as the program is now in its third season. However, when the staff at the CCI contacted us about the program it seemed like such a perfect fit for our community outreach. We donated the field time each weekend to the program to bring all of the games to Immaculata and ensure that all the teams could play together in one top-class venue. Footy Sevens also hosted the schedule, standing and results on ottawafootysevens.com, helped out with some volunteer refereeing and donated sets of jerseys for the team. A huge shout out too to Joshua Shaw and Kwesi Loney of the Department of Athletics at Carleton University for their terrific donation of kits, balls and equipment for the teams.
On the field
Sixteen teams kicked off at Immaculata on July 6th, playing the first games of the league. Each team played in a 4-team section, with the top two teams from each advancing to the quarter-finals after six games. The eventual champions, OKYC from the Ottawa Karen community started slowly, with a heavy defeat to Columbia FC in their first game. However, they showed great resilience to battle back from that setback and go on to win the section and eventually gain revenge against Columbia FC in the semi-final. In the final, they faced Alpha Triangle in front of an impressive crowd at TD Place. Despite losing an early goal, OKYC came from behind again to claim the title and set off some ecstatic celebrations. It was a wonderful way to round off a wonderful program.
For more information on the Catholic Cantre for Immigrants, Ottawa visit cciottawa.ca.
For more information on Ottawa Police Services’ Community and Race Relations Section visit ottawapolice.ca/Diversity.