Soccer fans can support and cheer on local Syrian refugees and newcomers at a game in downtown Kitchener on Sunday.
The inaugural Grand River Fundraiser Cup is happening at Cameron Heights Collegiate starting at 4 p.m.
Levi Oakey is co-founder of the Grand River Union, which is putting on the event with help from the Waterloo Public Interest Group. He tells 570 NEWS that KW Syria United is a men’s soccer team, which is now raising money to remain in the Grand River Soccer League this coming season.
“We saw last year that KW Syria United was playing in the Grand River Soccer League … and we found out that this year, they were short of funds and probably wouldn’t be able to run the team. So we thought that was something we should get behind and support them, and decided to do a fundraiser cup — as they need about $3,000.”
Oakey says helping newcomers and refugees is a cause that hits close to home.
“My name is Levi, so I have kind of a funky first name — and when I was younger and changed schools, it was pretty rough and I felt pretty lonely and experienced isolation. Then on a nice spring day, a team of kids was short a player for a game of soccer, and I joined in … and it was a lot of fun, and I was actually able to make friends through that,” explains Oakey. “That’s the beauty of soccer — it’s an international game. So to have this team here and for the players to be able to find out what it’s like to live in Canadian culture, and meet other Canadians — that’s super beneficial to them, and to us, as we can learn so much from them as well.”
Oakey says they want as many people as possible to come out to the game Sunday.
“We want to make it a real community celebration. We plan to have stuff available for people to make their own banners and posters. We want to celebrate the players, and the sport itself.”
If you can’t attend Sunday’s game, you still have an opporunity to help KW Syria United. A GoFundMe account has been set up, and you can donate by clicking here.