Meet the Victoria Dreams - Victoria's Street Soccer Team

It started with a New Year's resolution. The calendar had just turned to January 2011 and I wanted to set a tangible goal for the year. I wanted to do something in the Victoria community that could make a difference.

Then I saw an article about an Ottawa street soccer team. Why doesn't Victoria have a program that offers a fun and free team sport to the less fortunate? I decided to start Victoria street soccer. After securing a field and initial funding from Street Soccer Canada, I was printing flyers and dropping into homeless shelters after work and on the weekends to recruit players. We got some media coverage, which attracted Andrew Bissoon, the man behind barbecue catering company Fat Daddy's, to the program. His promise to provide hot, good-quality food at every practice was key to recruiting and keeping players who often come for the meal as much as they come for the game. Sharing a meal together also became a great way to socialize and for the players to bond as friends. 

Our first practice in March 2011 was a success. At least 20 people from the street community played or watched and almost equal numbers in volunteers or spectators. The momentum grew. More players came, knowing they'd be offered nearly new Adidas cleats (donated) to play with. One player came up with the name Victoria Dreams, which summed it up nicely. Volunteers and organizers came up with great ideas for fundraisers, team building exercises and events. We took the team to the Western Street Soccer championships in Vancouver and finished second, leaving an impression on the Street Soccer Canada executive. They decided Victoria should be represented on Team Canada for the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris and Richard Clemens was it. A skilled soccer player and in need of a leg up in life. It was an experience of a lifetime and now Richard is a leader, helping us prepare the next Victoria player for 2012. 

We're in our second year and we continue to attract new players. Personally, I've never felt something so rewarding as when I see the players significantly improving on the field and making friends off the field. I know that soccer can change lives.