Kick-Start program provides soccer balls, cleats to children in need

Ottawa South United soccer club has teamed up with the Ottawa Police Service and the Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI) to make a beautiful gesture that will help children from needy families play the beautiful game.

Through their partnership, the three organizations formally launched the Kick-Start Program last week. As part of the program, OSU has donated in excess of 250 soccer balls and 200 pairs of donated cleats from its families to children in need. The CCI has coordinated the effort by connecting with new families to Canada who have children with a keen interest in soccer. The Ottawa Police Service will be handling the logistics of distributing the items to the family homes directly through their uniformed officers.

The Kick-Start program, through its trio of partners, will be supporting children’s accessibility and engagement in sport, making a lasting impact in the community. Future plans include the addition of in-person training, directly in the community once it is feasible to do so.

“Supporting children across the greater Ottawa area is a key objective for our club and is a part of OSU’s new ESG strategy. We know the important role that sport can play for youth and are grateful for the support of our families and the utilization of our Help the Kids Play Fund to launch this initiative,” noted OSU President, Bill Michalopulos.

The Ottawa Police service sees Kick-Start as a valuable program that they are happy to be a partner in.

“We are excited about this initiative because it involves our Frontline and Neighbourhood officers partnering with trusted agencies to help people give back to our community. Thank you, Ottawa residents for your generosity,” said Ottawa Police A/Staff Sergeant Fernando Vieira.

The Catholic Centre for Immigrants is excited about the program. Sports, particularly at the youth level, unifies families and cultures no matter what background they are from.

“Nelson Mandela said, ‘Sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.’ At the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, we believe sports play a major role in helping immigrant families, youth and children integrate into their new home. This partnership with one of the biggest soccer clubs in the city and the Ottawa Police Service sends a strong message to our newcomers’ community that they are not alone, they have access to the sport they love, and that they are welcome,” reflected Catholic Centre for Immigrants Staff, Zaid Al-Shorafat.