NEWS

Penelakut First Nation trying to send 'first all First Nations soccer team' to Sweden

03/02/2015 05:09 EST | Updated 05/02/2015 05:59 EDT
A B.C. soccer team is trying to get to an international youth soccer tournament in Sweden and become what it says would be the first all First Nations team at the event.

A team of young players from Penelakut, near Chemainus on Vancouver Island, are planning to be among the 1,600 players at the annual Gothia Cup in Sweden this July.

First Nations players from Canada have been to the event before, but the team's manager says this would be the first time there would be a Canadian team of all First Nations players.

"I just think it's a great opportunity for our kids to go experience the world and a phenomenal tournament," said Pam Jack, a band councillor for the Penelakut First Nation.

She added that the opportunity would allow the kids to "dream bigger and know that they can reach a higher potential than just here at home."

Jack says scouts for teams around the world attend the international competition. When she went with her daughter a few years ago, she saw many of the players get picked up and sign contracts with European teams.

Most of the players' families don't have the means to get the kids there, so she's been organizing fund raising efforts for the team, including a GoFundMe site, raffles, online auctions and a gala.

She's also donated the $700 honorarium she receives as a councillor.

Jack says so far the team has almost raised enough to pay for accommodations, tournament fees and food. But its still trying to cover the biggest cost: plane tickets for all the team members and coaches to get to Sweden.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Sending the first all First Nations youth soccer team to Sweden

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