By Dan Plouffe
After weekly sessions throughout the summer in their own communities, players from the Blair Court, Russell Heights and Confederation Court Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhoods came together for a season-ending festival on Saturday, Sept. 23 at Franco-Cité high school.
The sessions were led by Raz El-Asmar, an Ottawa TFC Academy coach and past Ottawa Sports Awards Mayor’s Cup winner for Outstanding Contribution to Sport in Ottawa, along with help from his children, Toni, Max and Vanessa.
The OCH Foundation’s recLINK program organized the soccer season alongside each of the Community Houses, with additional support from the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Connecting Athletes of All Means to Paths in Sport (CAMPS) Project. Ottawa TFC Soccer Club gave free jerseys to all the players at the festival, while the Ottawa Internationals Soccer Club donated the field rental time.
It’s been a busy few weeks for the OCH Foundation, which was fresh off hosting its milestone and record-breaking 10th annual Golf Tournament on Sept. 15 at Loch March Golf & Country Club, where the community came together to crack the $100,000 fundraising mark for the first time.
At the event, the OCH Foundation recognized the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ottawa South MPP John Fraser for making initiatives like the soccer festival possible thanks to an OTF Resilient Community Fund grant.
RecLINK connects children and youth from OCH communities to no-cost sports and recreation opportunities. Case managers engage families and break down participation barriers such as registration fees, equipment, language, technology, transportation and other supports.
“This means that the kids in our communities will have an opportunity to play sport and have this amazing development opportunity,” OCH Corp. Community Development Manager Janice Cunning said at the event.
“It isn’t just soccer. They’re learning about leadership. They’re learning about teamwork and setting goals. And they’re having fun. The stress melts away after a crazy day at school.
“I can’t thank everybody enough who’s pitched in to collaborate to make sure our kids can play and have fun.”
The winner of the festival’s fun “Champions League” format was decided in a penalty-kicks shootout, won by a team from Confederation Court. Here was the championship-winning kick moment:
Check out the photo gallery below by the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Dan Plouffe for more highlights:
Read about more local sport inclusion initiatives in the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Inclusion in Sport Series at: https://ottawasportspages.ca/2023/04/22/ottawa-sports-pages-inclusion-in-sport-series/