A shared love of soccer has people rallying to help Syrian refugees get back in the game in Nanaimo. Volunteers are appealing for donations of cleats and balls to bring the game they played back home, alive for them here.
Lacing up to hit the soccer pitch, is where Syrian refugee Zakaria Madrek feels closest to the man he once was.
“When I play soccer like I feel like so much better,” says Madrek.
Kicking a ball, cheering each other on and even in rain soaked blue jeans they are darting from side to side like the game underway at Nanaimo’s Merle Logan Field is riding on each play.
“Before we left Syria we have everyday, everyday game,” says Madrek.
“I think soccer was really important to them back home and if they can have a chance to be normal again and to live their lives and have fun, that’s what we’re hoping to try and do,” says Susan Plensky of Nanaimo Volunteers for Immigrants.
Volunteers helping the 34 Syrian families that have settled in Nanaimo in the past year are appealing for donations of equipment they could use to play the sport they love. From uniforms to cleats, shin guards and balls, they need it all for players from children to adults.
“We’re hoping that if we can get enough for two teams to play each other and cleats for the families then they can start playing soccer in Nanaimo and the Harbour City Football Club has responded just immediately saying yes we would love to have the Syrian players come and join us,” says Plensky.
“I’m excited to meet these guys and embrace them into our Nanaimo community and soccer community,” says Gunnar Myhrer of the Harbour City Football Club.
The Harbour City Football Club has invited the city’s Syrian refugees to play Friday, April 7th in a friendship game at Nanaimo’s Merle Logan Field from 5pm onwards and will be accepting equipment donations for them there and at any time at Nanaimo’s Beban Soccer office.
Help them start their futures here through a shared love of football.