At 7:00 am on August 20th, Merle Logan Turf field in Nanaimo was already bustling with activity. Volunteers unloaded trucks full of everything they would need for the coming event: hundreds of soccer balls, cleats of all shapes and colours, jerseys, tables and tents and food and balloons. The buzz of a generator filled the air as two big bouncy castles were inflated. Speakers were mounted and sound systems checked. We waited for the children to come.
They travelled from all over the central island – 220 children and youth from more than 25 Nations, along with their families (and a few puppies too!). They came by ferry and car, by bus and helicopter. They came to play.
After the opening ceremonies, including a welcome from Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse, the kids were entertained by Whitecaps Team mascot Spike and Indigenous hip-hop duo Mob Bounce. They were then treated to a day of soccer drills with players and coaches from the Whitecaps and the VIU Mariners. In between drills they took time for snacks, face-painting, crafts or scaling the bouncy castles.
While the day was about sport and having fun, Hope and Health is about so much more: the vision is to provide Indigenous children and youth with the tools to carry themselves with pride and confidence, achieve their highest potential and dream big.
More than 70 volunteers made the day possible, including staff from Kw’umut Lelum, coaches from VIU, Merriman Soccer, and of course the Whitecaps players themselves: Erik Hurtado, Marcel de Jong, Kendall Watson, Efrain Juarez, Alphonso Davies, Felipe, Brek Shea and Kei Kamara.
We raise our hands to everyone who took part this year – and to our Member Nations who help make it possible for all of our children to attend.
Check out the Gallery from the day HERE.
Photos by Tricia Thomas