By West Ottawa Soccer Club
Six local youth and their support team are in Nicaragua from July 4-13, 2013 to build a school, a project that started last year with SchoolBOX, a Canadian charity carrying the mission of making education possible for those who can’t afford it.
The team heading to Nicaragua is part of the West Ottawa Soccer Club, the largest club in Ottawa and second largest in the country. WOSC, a True Sport club, encourages its athletes to find interesting ways to give back to the community.
Last year, the team of young athletes decided to run a 5 km race to support the building of the school and raised over $1,700 from pledges.
Following the run, the team won third prize in the national True Sport Give Back competition, which helped to raise an additional $2,000 for the cause.
In all, over $4,000 was raised last year to support the charity, and a player-organized community 5 km run in Bridlewood this June pushed that total further.
In addition, the youth received a $7,000 scholarship from the Amazing People Gala, a local event that highlights extraordinary accomplishments from ordinary people.
The Gala raised over $50,000 for SchoolBOX last year and determined that the six athletes were fitting ambassadors for their inaugural youth scholarships.
“We believe that these athletes demonstrate the kind of leadership and caring that we want to foster among local youth,” stated Gala co-chair Eric Collard. “We hope that this will inspire other youth to want to give back to their community the way these young athletes have.”
Athletes becoming leaders
U14 girls team coach Dina Bell-Laroche, a community leader who’s been involved in 5 Olympic Games, has incorporated a Give Back element into all the teams that she has coached. It’s this type of experience that makes good athletes into great leaders, she believes.
“Sport is more than just a game. Sport can teach life lessons off the playing field that can build self esteem, empowering people to set a goal and achieve it, and believe in something that is larger than them,” Bell-Laroche says. “I’m so proud of the accomplishments of these young athletes and the leadership they are demonstrating to support a community thousands of miles away.”
Kathleen Carson, Priya Nagpal, Tiffany Ingram, Gabrièle Donnelly, Jessica Aiello and Talia Laroche, along with Collard, are now completing the journey by making the trek down to Managua, Nicaragua’s capital.
The team of youth and their chaperones – including Peter Donnelly, Lynn Aiello, Karri Dawson, John Carson and Bell-Laroche – are spending 10 days helping to build the school 40 km outside Managua, to engage with the community, to play soccer with local youth, and to experience the warm Nicaraguan hospitality.