Thank you for sending us to June Sports!

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

Patrick Oleman Awarded the YMCA Power of Peace Award

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.

UBC Indoor Tournament – February 18

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!

A Tribute to Coach Steve

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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

Message from the President

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Our strategic planning session early this year resulted in an organization vision, concrete fund raising goals, and a proposed organization structure, as well as identifying next steps. The top barrier (and therefore priority) to organizational health and growth is sustainable funding. Key ongoing initiatives will be:

Working to deliver one game event per month that will serve as a community & sponsor engagement opportunity. These game events will be selected strategically to build relationships with potential sponsors or offer value to current sponsors.
Creating a new structure for Board and committees, with clear vision, mandate, structure and goals. Committees now include; the Executive; Fundraising and Finance; Operations; and Communications.

Regarding Charitable Status, the application prepared by Allison and others is now before lawyers for review, prior to submission to the federal government. With Charitable Status in place, we will be much better able to achieve a sustainable funding model.

Led by Sarah and her fundraising team there were a number of fundraising successes, including: grants and/or donations from LUSH, Vancity, The Southsiders, RED Academy, Craft Beer, UBC Med, and Via Sport. In addition we raised over $6,000 from individuals this year!

There was another successful participation in June Sports at Alert Bay, by 25 players and volunteers. This annual event is the highlight of our year and provides us with the opportunity to work on team building and to connect with indigenous communities. This year, we received the good sportsmanship award and were featured in the UK Guardian newspaper. Special thanks to Temple Sholom for again providing meals for the event.
We continue outreach into the larger Vancouver area community.

We have received recognition and support from the City of Vancouver; every year we play a game with the mayor and the police and we have recently been recognized with the City of Vancouver Award for Diversity and Inclusiveness.

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We have developed valuable partnerships with other non-profits in our community, including Covenant House, Portland Hotel Society, the University of British Columbia (UBC Rec, UBC Medicine, and UBC Thunderbirds Women’s Soccer), the Megaphone and Simon Fraser University.

We operate an impressive practice schedule, with indoor or outdoor experiences on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (am and pm), Saturday and Sunday, with players like Patrick, John, Johnny and Ricky running practice sessions that have become key components in our program.

In addition, we organized or participated in a long list of special events, including games with Feyenoord Rotterdam FC, Vancity, Craft, VPD, BoFo Kettle, SFU Varsity Soccer, RED Academy, Megaphone, Southsiders, and LUSH, as well as our annual tournament with UBC Rec, a successful end-of-summer celebration BBQ by Alli, Andre and Adrian, a tournament for women organized by Charles in North Vancouver, and the already mentioned June Sports.

Our players continue to impress and make a difference. Rick, Patrick, John, Cheyenne, Dennis and Jose show leadership and mentoring for new and younger players, provide invaluable support for the coaches and volunteers at practices and events, and are instrumental in identifying and attracting new players; Norma, Debbie, Allyssa, Jenny, Veronica and others give valuable input to our general operations and specific insights into how we make sure that we are seen as a welcoming place for all; Rose-Marie, Stevie, Dennis and Johnny continued their membership on the Board. There are many more examples of player excellence. Most importantly our players constantly reinforce our goal of providing a safe soccer community for all.

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We have superb coaches and volunteers. Our UBC Med students get more involved every year. Kurt’s constant attention to the program has resulted in many of the excellent events that have raised our profile and gained valuable supporters and donors; Sarah W is enthusiastically leading our Communications and Corporate Sponsorship initiatives; Arun rationalized and automated our financial management and reporting system, and we now find ourselves in a healthy financial position; Lurdes developed our Volunteer Orientation Package; Dan advanced our approaches to behavior standards and safety related issues.
Thanks to our sponsors: Avtiare, Craft Beer, Fairware, Farpost, LUSH, Portland Hotels, RED Academy, Soccerwest, Social Conscience, Southsiders, Temple Sholom, UBC Med students, UBC Thunderbirds Women, VanCity, City of Vancouver, and the Whitecaps.

Thanks to all players, coaches, volunteers and sponsors for your hard work on behalf of the VSSL.

Steve McMinn, President

October 28, 2016

Kickin’ it with the Vancouver Police Department

Monday, April 18 was a gorgeous day for soccer. That afternoon players and volunteers with the Vancouver Street Soccer league met up with Vancouver police officers at Trillium for a fun kick around tournament. The teams were joined by City Councillor (and goalie extraordinaire) Andrea Reimer as well as Mayor Gregor Robertson.

At the end of the games, the VPD treated everyone to foot-long subway sandwiches. Thanks to VSSL photographer Theo Terry for snapping some great pictures.