Indigenous non-profit organization changing the future of sport through soccer

CHEK

Hope and Health helps to bring access to sports for Indigenous youth, all the while building mini-pitches and camps in local communities.

Earlier this year, the non-profit organization acquired the former UBC soccer club, known as Varsity FC, and converted it to Nautsa’mawt FC — the first Indigenous-owned, semi-pro soccer team in North America.

Local Vancouver Island Indigenous soccer player Thompson Nelson is one of many Indigenous players across the country embracing this new path to professional sport.

“There are definitely barriers out there,” said Nelson. “It can definitely be a struggle, but you just have to be proud. Don’t fall into negativity.”

Players from across Canada are converging to the Lower Mainland to take advantage of Hope and Health’s kindness, dedication and innovative efforts to the evolution of the Indigenous sport.

Victoria Marchand is one of those players, coming all the way from Ottawa.

“It’s really about listening to the needs of specific communities because a lot of the time the discourse is around pan-indigeneity,” Marchand told CHEK News. “I think that’s what’s really hurting us sometimes with developing grass root soccer movements.”

Marchand, along with many other teammates, is set to play on April 29 for Nautsa’mawt FC’s inaugural first game at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium. 

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