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For Major League Soccer player Joel Waterman, it started with a grant. The Club de Foot Montréal central defender recalled that he did not have the opportunity to pursue a range of sports as a child. Instead, he chose soccer, and it became his passion. However, he said, another factor changed his life and led him to where he is today—the support of KidSport, which granted him the opportunity to pursue soccer. Waterman is an example of the powerful impact KidSport can have on young people’s lives.
In 2020, Waterman took some time to think about what kind of impact he could make off the pitch and found KidSport. It was a full-circle moment, and Waterman said it was a no-brainer to join and give back to an organization that gave him the financial support his family needed to find and pursue his greatest passion. Returning to his old stomping grounds at Aldergrove High School in Langley, B.C., Waterman found an opportunity to change the lives of young kids, the same way his life was changed when he was younger.
“It’s really neat to see the kids’ faces when you tell them ‘we’ve got a professional soccer player here!’ and the fact that he played here as well… it’s amazing, the fact that he’s willing to give back his time,” said Aldergrove Soccer Club Coach Brian Hunter.
Waterman echoed that sentiment, sharing, “Being able to give back to the club that gave so much to me is huge […] it was a no-brainer for me to come back. I get to meet really fun kids and have a great time. It’s a really beneficial experience for everyone involved.”
Small Players, Big Impact
Coming out of a global pandemic that shuttered group activities and events for the better part of two years, sport is more important than ever before. Donations and support from community members and family members make it so that more kids have access to sport. Getting in the game provides opportunities to renew connections within our communities and provide a positive outlet for kids, especially those from marginalized communities. It can help kids build confidence and a sense of belonging, fuel better health, and unleash their inner potential.
However, sport can often come with financial barriers, excluding many families from taking part in the transformative power of sports. Since its creation by Sport BC in 1993, KidSport has been on a mission to help families overcome the prohibitive cost of sport through a confidential grant application process.
In its almost 30 years of operation, KidSport has shaped Canadian childhoods through the connections, encouragement, and confidence they find through playing on a team. Over the past three years alone, KidSport BC distributed more than $4.55 million to help 14,919 kids participate in 52 different sports in 150 communities province-wide.
Because the KidSport programs start in local chapters, they have a genuine and tangible impact on real kids and their communities. Across British Columbia, there are 40 community chapters, in addition to the Provincial Chapter. Each community chapter raises funds, accepts applications and distributes grants, and is comprised of dedicated volunteers who believe in the power of sport to build their respective communities.
“Sport BC believes cost shouldn’t be a barrier that prevents kids from experiencing the positive benefits of sport participation, and thanks to KidSport and our donors, it doesn’t have to be,” Sport BC’s President & CEO Rob Newman explained. “Sport BC is proud to have established the KidSport program, and we’re committed to ensuring funding is available for all kids who need support—thank you to all of our supporters and donors that make this possible.”
For the Love of the Game
Sport has the power to change lives, especially when those lives are blossoming and in need of a community that challenges them, cultivates their self-esteem, and pushes them to be their best.
When kids participate in sports, they practice teamwork and collaboration, building relationships with their teammates and the confidence to become leaders. This also ignites inclusivity, teaching kids to include others and promote a sense of belonging, a skill that will help them build more inclusive communities as they grow.
Participating in sports also helps kids stay active and allows them to form healthy habits that last a lifetime, reducing the burden on our healthcare system and building the foundation for better physical and mental health. As well, more physical activity aids in better focus, motivation, and energy to succeed in school.
KidSport funding has always been important, but now more than ever, families are struggling, and sports can help support our collective physical and mental wellbeing. KidSport and Sport BC are proud to play a key role in delivering opportunities to British Columbians. We owe ALL kids the chance to experience everything sport has to offer.
“Together, we build healthy communities, friendships, leaders, connections, and resilience,” Newman shared. “We, along with our members and KidSport Chapters work to enhance and support sport participation in British Columbia, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to thrive through sport.”
Whether you’re looking to register your child in sport but face financial barriers, or you want to pass on the love of sports to a new generation of youth, your donation can help KidSport help more kids.
Visit kidsport.ca to learn more, donate, or apply for a grant.
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The reality is that cost keeps 1 in 3 Canadian kids out of organized sport. KidSport provides grants to help cover those costs to ensure that no kid is ever left watching from the sidelines.