Indigenous soccer player from Van Isle signed to semi-pro soccer team


Thompson Nelson, a member from the Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation, has signed to Nautsa’mawt Football Club which is now owned by Hope and Health.

Hope and Health is a non for profit that’s designed to bring access to sport for development and social impact opportunities to Indigenous youth.  Nautsa’mawt Football Club’s acquisition by Hope and Health is creating a new avenue to professional sports that has previously been unavailable for Indigenous soccer players like Nelson.

Nelson grew up playing soccer from a very young age.

After watching many soccer games, he put on a pair of cleats, laced them up and then spent more than a decade submerging himself into the sport.

His father, who passed away when he was seven, would take him to every soccer tournament on the Indigenous circuit — both on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. 

Despite the support of his late father and his uncle, who became a father-like figure to him, Nelson knows that he’s not the only Indigenous athlete who has faced barriers due to his ancestry.

“There are definitely barriers out there.  It can definitely be a struggle, but you just have to be proud. Don’t fall into negativity.  If someone has something bad to say about you just brush it off,” Nelson said.

Deana Gill-Georgica is one of the co-founders of Hope and Health, and she and the other founders are thrilled to have Nelson join the roster.

“It’s really exciting to have Thompson sign with Nautsa’mawt Football Club. He’s been a long-term player and coach with Hope and Health,” says Gill-Georgica.

After playing this past year with both the VIU Mariners and Cowichan Access Division 1, Nelson is heading to Vancouver to start his new semi-pro soccer journey next week as he prepares for Nautsa’mawt’s first season which starts on April 29.

RELATED: First Nation, UVic researchers to uncover ancient Indigenous village in Cordova Bay

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