By Claudine Nduwimana

It’s only year 2 but already the Catholic Centre for Immigrants Youth Soccer League is set to grow.

With the season ready to kick off on June 25, this year the league will see a girls’ division as well as a boys’ division.

The decision to add a girls’ league was due to the success of the league overall as well as an expressed interested among the girls and young women. 

“The purpose for the CCI Youth Soccer league is to encourage stronger community connections. This summer we aim to include both boys teams and girls teams so as to decrease social barriers that in the past have separated us to create stronger relations within the Ottawa community,” said Noor, CCI Youth Soccer League organizer.

The games start on June 25th but a picnic launch for players and volunteers was held on June 12 at Brewer Park. More than 100 people turned out for a sunset picnic, games and getting to know each other.

Again this year, the league will be working with the Ottawa Police. There will be 12 teams, divided into two groups according to age. Each team will have one police officer who will work as a mentor, a friend or just a volunteer. The involvement of the Ottawa Police is a positive attempt to connect the police service to the newcomer community in Ottawa. By partnering up with organizations like the Ottawa Police, CCI’s Community Connections Program hopes to create strong social connections within Ottawa for faster integration.

The 2018 league also aims to create a more welcoming environment and to encourage better connections between teams. “Unlike last year where teams ended up being too competitive and ended up separating than uniting teams, this year, we will encourage more community participation and support during games by making each team host a game,” said Noor.

Teams are expected to choose home fields. For example, OCAPI, which is a Congolese team, will have their home field at Donald St. Fields and are expected to meet certain requirements and standards. When a club is the home team, they will be responsible for providing catering to the away team. After each gane, the home team will provide refreshments which will allow players on both teams to mingle, connect and network. At the end of the season, CCI will offer a prize to the best hospitality team.

All matches will be played on Mondays and Fridays at 6 p.m. The matches will take place during the evening because it’s the most convenient time for young newcomers and transportation is readily available.

CCI encourages everyone to come support the game and together build a stronger, united Ottawa.

(The photo gallery below is from our June 12th sunset picnic).