Vancouver Whitecaps Team Up With Local Refugee Youth at 1st Annual Fair Trade Soccer Match in Surrey

Fair Trade game ball symbolizes youth solidarity and highlights refugee issues.

Surrey Champions Program Participants enjoying the afternoon. Photo courtesy by Esther Ng.

On August 28th 2010, over 700 enthusiastic soccer fans attended the 1st Annual Fair Trade Soccer Match in Whalley to watch members of the Vancouver Whitecaps and local refugee youths take on the Surdel and Whalley minor soccer associations in a friendly exhibition. The match, hosted by KidSport Canada, the Surrey Food Bank and the City of Surrey was a huge success in using sport to address refugee issues and how Fair Trade can empower communities both in Canada, and around the world.

Asa Rehman of CKNW Sports was the commentator for the match while Michelle Pye—a FIFA referee—officiated. Notable guests in attendance included NDP leader Carole James, Acting City Mayor Barbara Steele, KidSport Canada President Leila Bell-Irving, Surrey Food Bank President Sheida Shakib-Zadeh, Peter Ladner, the brother of the late Wendy Ladner-Beaudry, Olympian Emily Brydon, and Whitecaps Foundation manager Andy Price.

The youth who participated in Saturday's match escaped from countries where child labour is commonplace. There are about 50 players, ages 10-19 in the Surrey Champions Project—a local program aimed at fostering leadership through sport. And, because many of players are originally from Pakistan, Ghana, and Thailand; using a Fair Trade Certified game ball carried a special significance as it guarantees no child labour, and social premiums that communities can use to finance health-care programs or build schools in these regions. James Milligan of Social Conscience Sport Balls was particularly excited with the overall turnout. “Today’s event is a great example of how Fair Trade can be incorporated into everyday soccer games.”

Event co-organizer Korina Busse of KidSport Canada commented further, “The event was a huge success in bringing these young players together in the spirit of friendship and fair play, “ Busse then pauses, her eyes lighting up before speaking about the young players, “We felt that the match helped bring awareness to refugee issues in a fun and inspiring manner.”

L to R: Korina Busse Kidsport Canada, Asa Rehman Team 1040, Barbara Steele Acting City Mayor of Surrey, Carole James BC NDP, Harish Raisinghani Fair Trade Vancouver & EWB Vancouver, Sue Hammell MLA Surrey-Green Timbers, Bruce Ralston MLA Surrey Whalley. Photo courtesy of Lorinder Birak.

Harish Raisinghani, event co-organizer and member of Fair Trade Vancouver nodded in agreement. “With the amount of fun the players had, we hope that the Fair Trade Soccer Match will become an annual community event for youth of all ages and backgrounds, because nobody should be left on the sidelines.”

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