Girls’ multicultural soccer team enjoys success on field
Woods Fines, CONTRIBUTOR
Sarah Schwendemann always has a hard time stopping her soccer team’s practice at the end of their hour-long session.
Schwendemann coaches the Immi- grant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba under-18 team. Their scrimmage to end the session can never end in a tie, so the team plays a sudden-death overtime, despite Schwendemann’s requests to stop.
The dedication the team shows in practice has begun to translate into games. The outdoor team took home silver medals this year, and the indoor team is off to a 2-1 start.
“We should have won the loss, but we’re headed in a good path,” said Schwendemann.
The team did not always perform at the level they are now. When the girls’ club was first founded, the team struggled against other local community teams.
“We started losing 15 to nothing, 17 nothing,” Schwendemann said. But the group slowly got better.
IRCOM’s improved team made the outdoor season finals this year, and although they lost, the popularity of the sport among immigrant and refugee youth grew. Soon the club had to hold tryouts because of the number of girls who wanted to play.
“If we had the resources we wanted to have a second team, but we just don’t have the resources to do it,” said Schwendemann.
Although the players on IRCOM’s squad come from countries like Ethi- opia, Nepal, and Mexico, Ayda Mahary from Sudan describes her team as closer than most.
“We’ve seen other teams play the game, they go to practices, and they go home. But with us, we see each other on a daily basis. We have a really good
relationship with each other,” said Mahary.
Mahary’s teammate, Selam Kidane, agreed.
“Our team is a family. Even though we’re not playing soccer, or we’re not practicing, we’re very close. Our coach too, we call her mother,” said Kidane, 16, who came to Canada from Sudan.
Schwendemann and IRCOM’s U-18 girls are hoping to again reach the community level finals. But this time, they’d like to bring gold medals back to their community.