GUILDFORD — A soccer tournament this month has been planned for youth, by youth, with the aim of keeping kids on the right path and hopefully steer them away from crime.
The event is being organized by Dacious Richardson, a Guildford resident who came to Canada from Liberia as a refugee in 2011.
“The one thing that got me to express myself and open up to my peers and meeting new people was playing sports, like soccer,” said Richardson, who is a member of the Surrey Refugee Youth Team. “This is what inspired me to start the Surrey Youth Mini Soccer Tournament. Its main purpose is to engage and connect youth, with a focus on refugee and immigrant youth, as well as youth at-risk, to participate in sports and connect with friends, both new and old.”
With engagement and connection in mind, Richardson said police will be involved in the event.
“The Surrey RCMP will be present throughout the event,” said Richardson, “and before the tournament kick off, they will be speaking to the youth about violence and how we can stop it from happening….. so they can get the knowledge and hopefully make a better choice for the future.
“That is very important,” he added. “If you look now at our city there’s a lot of gang violence going around and I believe that it’s good when we get the RCMP to engage with the youth, just to tell them, ‘There’s other ways to look at your life.’ Getting involved in the community is a big thing to do. If you are involved in the community you get connected and can look after one another.”
This is year two for the tourney, and Richardson said the 2017 iteration was “very successful as it brought youth and young people in the community together.”
He intends to continue running the event annually.
“Last year, we had four teams but we have more teams registered this summer already,” Richardson told the Now-Leader, counting seven that had signed up by Aug. 2. “People in the community also attended last year and it was really great, because a lot of people came out.”
This year, the tourney is changing venues, from inside Guildford rec centre to outdoor fields at Hjorth Road Park.
The 2018 event received a $900 grant through Oak Avenue Neighbourhood Society and the Vancouver Foundation.
Prizes will be handed out for teams, as well as the “Golden Boot” award for the top scorer and “Most Valuable Player.”
“We buy new soccer balls, and equipment to use for the tournament, so we give them away. There’s a draw,” said Richardson. “Medals and trophies will also be handed out, and gift cards.”
Teams of five-by-five will play in the tournament, with youth ages 13 to 21 able to participate. Individuals who sign up can be matched with others to form a team. For more information and to register email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-502-6055. Registration deadline is Aug. 16.
Surrey Youth Mini Soccer Tournament is set to run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug 18 at Hjorth Road Park soccer fields (10275 148th St.).