THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF SOCCER

BY JOHNNY CULLEN

You’ll find them at the Wesleyan Church on Duncan Lane. They roll around on the floor, getting covered in that gym-floor dust basketball players are always wiping off the soles of their sneakers at a stoppage in play. They spring into the air like the stuntmen that got launched out of  cannons at  circuses in the 30s. They even (somehow) get tangled up in the vast labyrinth of twine we call soccer net.

No, we’re not talking about soccer balls here – we’re talking about the kids who kick them.

The Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF) partnered up with the Fredericton District Soccer Association (FDSA) to run indoor soccer sessions for kids who are part of the city’s multicultural community.

They’ve got the space booked for a few hours on Saturday afternoons and Monday evenings, and the players aren’t wasting a second of precious time on the court.

They laugh and joke around with their new friends. They argue when they think the ref should make a different call. They celebrate when their team scores. They do what kids do.

Many of them are still settling into their new homes. Some have only been living in Canada for a couple of weeks. They’re trying to make new friends, learn English and figure out Canadian culture. It’s only a few hours per week, but these sessions help kids adapt to their new home.

Jeremias Tecú is the MCAF’s Settlement Worker in Schools and the main organizer for the association’s indoor soccer league. He’s a coach and mentor for the young athletes; he’s a social butterfly and a one-man welcoming committee for their parents.

Many of the kids are just learning English, but Tecú doesn’t see this as a barrier on the court.

“You don’t have to speak a certain language to have fun,” he said. “Soccer is an international language.”

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Friendship has no language barrier. Especially while playing soccer. Photos by Johnny Cullen.

There’s a $40 registration fee for the soccer sessions, but organizations like Jumpstart help subsidize the cost for players that don’t have the money. Tecú says the idea is that players registered for the indoor league will be automatically registered for the FDSA’s outdoor programs this summer.

There are roughly 100 kids registered for the indoor league, with divisions ranging from Under 12 to Under 18.

It’s a lot of kids to manage, but Tecú and his team of volunteers don’t mind – they understand the positive impact soccer can leave on a young person’s life.

“Soccer brings us back to childhood,” Tecú said. “It provides happiness and friendship. It provides us with the right to play, and the right to have fun.”

 

For information on how to register for soccer in the Fredericton area this summer, visit the FDSA website: www.fdsa.org