By Peter Morrow
Back in 2012 – Kingston FC’s first in the Canadian Soccer League – most of the pro team’s players were located in Ottawa. They were commuting not only to away games but even to Kingston for home games.
Following successful CSL seasons in 2013 and 2014, the team’s players are all located in Kingston mainly in student housing and – because of this – are becoming increasingly involved in the community.
Co-captain Edgar Soglo, for example, is one of eight Kingston FC players who has worked with young people at the Kingston Boys and Girls Club.
Soglo grew up in Aylmer, Quebec, not far from Ottawa. There was no professional team in Aylmer or even in Ottawa, Soglo says, “so we didn’t really have those kinds of role models or anyone older that came in and taught us what to do,” Soglo said. “It was pretty much my brothers when I came in, so I have to give a lot of credit to them.”
Soglo says his twin older brothers strongly encouraged him to play sports growing up, though they were break-dancers themselves. The 28-year old winger aims to replicate that type of encouragement.
“For myself, I would’ve loved to have some experience like this when I was younger – it would’ve been fantastic,” he said. “Going to a park, showing kids some stuff and putting smiles on their faces, it’s no problem. And having a good impact on the community, I’m sure they’re going to go back to school and tell their friends they played with Kingston FC players.”
Other players are involved elsewhere. Several for example have been spending time running soccer clinics at Archbishop O’Sullivan Roman Catholic School.
That started when the school’s council representative Paul Chaves found there was a lack of parent volunteers for his soccer camp. He decided there was no harm in contacting Kingston FC. “I thought hey, maybe they’d be interested. It was kind of a shot in dark,” said Chaves, who has two children at Archbishop O’Sullivan School.
Four pro players with varied backgrounds accepted the opportunity. The children were “the most focused playing soccer they’ve ever been,” Chaves said, soaking up the experience while learning from the best.
“The next Monday at school, I guarantee you there was some chatter about playing soccer with Kingston FC from the kids,” Chaves said. Among the four player-volunteers was returning team captain Austin White – a central defender who’s currently studying at Queen’s University Law School.
“There’s a pretty big emphasis on the team on getting involved in the community, whether it’s coaching soccer or something else,” White said, who performed similar community work at the University of Waterloo, where he received his undergraduate degree.
Team president Joe Scanlon says he’s delighted at the way team members have become involved in the community.
“In England where I live part time every kid is aware of soccer and there are lots of people willing to help youngsters learn about the game. That is changing in Canada but there is a real need for professionals to sell their sport – and our players are doing this by becoming involved in the community.”