Whitecaps FC members on hand as Snaw-Naw-As First Nation unveils special mini soccer pitch

Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards tosses the ball to get the children to start playing on its new mini soccer pitch. (Michael Briones photo)Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards tosses the ball to get the children to start playing on its new mini soccer pitch. (Michael Briones photo)
Youngsters with members of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. (Michael Briones photo)Youngsters with members of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. (Michael Briones photo)
A youngster boots a shot on goal. (Michael Briones photo)A youngster boots a shot on goal. (Michael Briones photo)
The new mini soccer pitch complements the new lacrosse box at the Snaw-Naw-As Field. (Michael Briones photo)The new mini soccer pitch complements the new lacrosse box at the Snaw-Naw-As Field. (Michael Briones photo)
A young boy having fun playing at the new mini soccer pitch. (Michael Briones photo)A young boy having fun playing at the new mini soccer pitch. (Michael Briones photo)

The Snaw-Naw-As First Nation will get a kick out of a new state-of-the-art mini soccer pitch, officially opened at the Snaw-Naw-As Field at Si-Em Heights in Lantzville on Sept. 7.

It is the second mini pitch installed in a First Nations community, through the initiative headed by the Indigenous-led organization Hope and Health and Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services in partnership with the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club and ScotiaBank.

A special opening ceremony featured an array of guests that included Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards, councillors Chris Bob and Evelyn Joe, Whitecaps ambassador Carl Valentine, players and coaches andParksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker.

Edwards thanked the many people, organizations and businesses that brought the new facility to the community.

“It gives our young people a place to go to and have a professional feeling… to have a sportsmanship feeling, to develop the discipline and the comradeship that you can have,” said Edwards, who added this would be a significant benefit and will help inspire the youth in the community.

READ MORE: First mini soccer pitch for Indigenous children ready for play

“We’re so grateful that our community has something that’s going to last forever and it’s going to be a good starting place,” he said. “A good starting place for our young people.”

The first pitch, installed at Penelakut Island September 2021, and the Snaw-Naw-As facility are part of a series of mini pitches that Hope and Health wants to establish in six Indigenous communities. Hope and Health is leveraging the game of soccer and mentorship to inspire hope, as well as to improve the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and life conditions for Indigenous children and youth.

“What defines our people today is stuff like this and those little kids that you see running around, ” said Bill Yoachim, the co-founder of Hope and Health. “That’s what defines our community, what we’re about, Indigenous peoples. I have to share that because the future is amazing when you see stuff like this.”

The mini-pitch complements a new lacrosse box now in place at the Snaw-Naw-As Field and a newly opened playground facility, which was also unveiled Sept. 7.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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