Playing more than 60 soccer matches among 24 teams at McGill University’s Molson Stadium Sunday wasn’t so much about scoring points on the field.
Still, the spirit of competition among these players was hard to suppress, given the energy of the play and the passion of fans. It was the 13th edition of GOAL MTL, a football (soccer) festival organized by GOAL Initiatives Foundation to raise money for youth soccer and other sports programs.
Organizers say they’re trying to form partnerships to achieve that.
“Small local businesses, community leaders, organizations, governments — it all has to come together,” explained festival founder and co-owner of the Burgundy Lion pub, Paul Desbaillets.
Representatives from various businesses, soccer leagues and community groups took part. Desbaillets points out that it’s their way to give back.
“You gotta give back, man,” he stressed. “You can’t just take.”
Beneficiaries of this year’s event include Heart Shaped Hands, Grassroot Soccer, Soccer Quebec, DeRo Foundation and Fondation Patrice Bernier. According to former professional soccer player Patrice Bernier, being in sports taught him confidence and discipline.
“I was able to benefit from playing, and knowing what the game brought to me, not just at the elite level, we’re trying to bring that to kids,” Bernier told Global News.
Recreational soccer players at Sunday’s event also point out that though support for sports in Montreal is generally good, more needs to be done because not everyone has access to play.
“There are lots of communities around the island, and we see them every day — communities that … don’t have as much, or they’re not super fortunate, or they are disenfranchised,” Leah Layers, a member of the VDMSL Community Soccer League, noted.
Montreal city councillor Sterling Downey agrees that more needs to be done and the community can help.
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“The city can’t do it alone,” he pointed out, “so we need to work with partners like the Goal Foundation, and this is how we bring this to the community and we make it better.”
Despite the battles on the soccer pitch Sunday, the real competition was in seeing which team could raise the most money.
Lenox Pub triumphed with a $1,040 and earned a bottle of Irish whiskey for their efforts. By end of play Sunday, organizers expected to meet their goal of $30.000. By the end of this year they hope to raise $70,000 in all.
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