On June 15th at 6am, 25 sleepy but eager players and volunteers met at Covenant House and loaded into vans packed with home cooked meals funded by Together Is Better, samosas from a tiny bakery on Fraser street and rented camping gear to make the eight-hour journey from Vancouver to Alert Bay.
During the next four days we camped, cooked and experienced the rich indigenous cultural events including the Salmon Prince and Princess competition in the community’s Big House, an amazing feast of local food and the community parade. We also got to know one another better as a street soccer family enriched by the the presence of Rik and Veronica Mountain’s children (all aspiring soccer players).
Coached by Amy Cornish and Justine Do, our men’s team played beautifully and won their first game in June Sports history! The highlights of the game were an amazing bicycle kick by Rik that nearly went into the net and the winning goal by Dennis Munroe.
We were also incredibly proud of our women players who played on the Twin Arrows and Young and the Rest of Us teams. The men came to their games and enthusiastically cheered them on.
None of these incredible experiences could have happened without the support of generous donors. Thank you to the organizations who donated to us (including Emily Carr University, LUSH Cosmetics, Vancity Credit Union, the Vancouver Southsiders and Fairware) as well as our many fantastic individual donors.
Every year, the ‘Namgis First Nation hosts an invitation-only soccer tournament during the June Father’s Day weekend. The tournament takes place on the beautiful, rugged island of Alert Bay, which is about a 10-hour drive and boat ride from Vancouver.
For the past four years, the Vancouver Street Soccer League has been invited to and attended the tournament. It has proven to be profound and life-changing for many of our league’s members. The village parade and traditional longhouse ceremonies that kick off the tournament resonate deeply with many of our players, particularly those who rarely leave the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Check out this video of our first trip:
For our players who are struggling with mental illness or living in shelters, the long trip up-island, natural beauty of Alert Bay and scenic boat-rides, can be particularly refreshing and rejuvenating. For all of our players and volunteers, the camaraderie forged on the soccer field or at the camping site while dining over communal meals after a hard fought match, makes this trip a highlight of the year. Read more about last year’s highlights here and read an article in The Guardian News covering the trip here.
This year, we’ve been invited to Alert Bay for June Sports with a new set of players eager to experience this amazing trip. Our plan is to send a full team and accompanying volunteers for the five day trip.
We’ll need to send approximately 22 people up island for the tournament, which is not an inexpensive endeavor. In order to pay for food, fuel, gifts for elders, car rentals, camping gear, registration fees and the ferry ride there and back we’ll need to raise $10,000.
Help us to send our players to June Sports by making a donation!
The VSSL is proud to stand with other organizations throughout the province in signing a declaration of commitment to erase bullying in sport and foster a positive environment as a part of Via Sport’s Erase Bullying in Sport campaign.
On November 17, 2016, the YMCA awarded Patrick “Shoosh” Oleman a Power of Peace medal.
The Power of Peace Awards highlight those who are working hard to make positive change and recognize those who are making a tangible difference in communities across Canada.
Patrick was recognized for his work as the founder of the 2010 Homeless World Cup Team Canada soccer team and captain of Woodwards FC street soccer team.
As veteran VSSL player, Patrick is mentor and role model for new players, leading by example with his positive attitude and his love of the game. He has also helped many of his fellow players find jobs and forged a key partnership between the VSSL and the Whitecaps FC as member of the team’s Operations crew.
Congratulations Patrick! You’re an inspiration to us all.
It’s that time of year again, folks. The VSSL’s long-running partnership with UBC is seeing the two groups join forces in a joint indoor soccer tournament!
The tournament will take place on February 18th, at UBC’s Student Rec Centre.
The tournament will take place between 10:00am and 3:00pm and teams will be mixed.If you’re a VSSL player, and want to make sure you’re involved, talk to one of your coaches. If you’re an innocent bystander who wants to come watch, be our guest!
Steve McMinn will be stepping down from his position as President of the VSSL in the coming months after leading the league for the past three years. While Steve will continue to sit on the Board, coach practices and coordinate Covenant Houses’ volunteers, the league will dearly miss Steve’s leadership.
Over the past three years, Street Soccer has continued to thrive in Vancouver and the VSSL has made steady progress in building capacity. We’ve sent multiple teams to June Sports – a wonderful aboriginal soccer tournament at Alert Bay (covered by the Guardian), become an official charity partner of the Whitecaps, won the City of Vancouver Mayor’s award for inclusivity and raised tens of thousands of dollars to support coaching and programming for many of the Downtown Eastside’s most vulnerable people. Steve has been at the heart of all of this.
For players and volunteers, he’s seen as a beloved fatherly figure who knows all the ins and outs of Scottish football. He is a pillar of support who everyone can rely on, no matter how tough things get. He’s the kind of guy that will get up at 6 AM to drive 5 hours across an international border just so that he doesn’t miss an important street soccer game. He’s also the sort of leader who will spend countless hours coordinating board materials, chairing meetings and then heading to the soccer pitch in pouring rain with a bag full of balls and a van full of Covey youth who he knows will significantly benefit from Street Soccer. His commitment is unparalleled.
So important and remarkable have his contributions been to Street Soccer that he was nominated last year to be the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS community MVP. The honour meant significant online recognition and a nifty video.
Thanks to Steve’s calm, thoughtful and ever-reliable leadership, the VSSL has navigated a number of stretches of choppy waters and for that, the entire board is greatly appreciative. Now – as Steve transitions out of his position as President the Board wishes to thank Steve for all of his amazing work. Steve – we’ll miss you as our President, but we’re proud that you’ll continue to support us on the Board and on the pitch!
Kurt Heinrich, Vice President