Playing on a Woolwich Youth Soccer team isn’t just about passing the ball and scoring goals.
For 13 members of the local soccer club, it is also about getting out into the community and using their playing skills to support a good cause.
They represent a variety of teams playing for the local organization.
On Mar. 20, the players participated in the 5 km portion of the Laurier Loop – an annual fundraiser for Parkinson’s Disease research at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Steve Sider, president of the soccer club’s executive, said it’s important to show players that there is a world outside of the soccer pitch. The organization wants kids to contribute and give back to the community at large, but also, to help build teamwork and partnerships.
“It helps them build camaraderie as a team. That is part of any sport – that sense of building your own community and building that as a team, but you also want to make connections with your broader community,” he said. “That is the biggest thing we are trying to do: making sure that the guys know that it is not just about playing soccer. Soccer is a great thing to do, but we also want them to be able to contribute to bigger issues.”
Sider says he isn’t sure whether any of the boys participating in the run have had family members directly affected by Parkinson’s Disease, but it was still important for them to add to the cause, and of course, have fun at the same time.
“It went great. The other coach and I were running in the fundraiser as well, and we were teasing the kids saying, ‘don’t be last and make sure that you aren’t going to get lapped,’ and then to see everyone do extremely well, that was great,” he said. “There were 13 all together that ran, and everyone finished and ran really well.”
Three of the participants from the Woolwich Youth Soccer Club, Owen Hill-Ring, Devin Noble and Ian Naisby, placed first, second and third in their age category with excellent times in the 5 km race.
“That wasn’t our goal, obviously, but it was nice to see them so as well as they did,” said Sider. “The main thing is just putting out that message and getting people in the community to know the kids.”
He says an added bonus from participating in an event supporting a good cause is changing the reputation of teenagers in the Woolwich area.
“There are a lot of things in the news with kids not really getting the best rep, and then when you see that there are good things that kids are involved with, it is good to highlight those and let the community know that there is a group of 15-year-old boys that can do some good and have fun at the same time,” he said.
This isn’t the last of the Woolwich Youth Soccer Club’s participation in community events, however. Teams will be taking part in the community cleanup on Apr. 16 and, at the end of April, they’ll be holding a soccer equipment donation event where players can donate their old equipment to those who can’t afford their own.