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This article was published 26/9/2015 (550 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
HEADINGLEY — Frank Nayituriki turned a celebratory cartwheel, Bernard Manishimwe gave out high-fives, and Bienfai Mafeso was lifted high above his teammates’ shoulders as he raised the championship trophy.
These and more expressions of joy were all over the field at John Blumberg sports complex Saturday afternoon as the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) soccer team won the Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association’s under-13 boys’ recreational soccer championship. IRCOM defeated the St. John’s-Ravenscourt U13B team 4-1.
"We, all of us, are so happy and enjoyed this so much. We all will remember this for the rest of our lives," said Hermon D’souza.
"We are all taking a lot of pictures and all so happy."
The IRCOM side, which includes players from newcomer families who have come to Canada to start new lives in a safer country, is part of a soccer program that began three years ago at the non-profit organization.
"I think this (winning the championship) means a lot to them, and it’s kind of empowering them. That’s giving them the sense that they can do things and achieve things they work toward," said Bisetsa Bahati, the assistant coach alongside head coach David Patton.
"I am very proud of them."
At the medal and trophy presentations, SJR head coach Andrew Robertson offered congratulations and complimented the IRCOM players for their "fast and skilled" style of play.
IRCOM was up 4-0 at the half despite playing into heavy and gusty winds. Though they played the second half with the wind at their backs, there was no running up the score. Patton was overhead asking the players "What’s the most important thing?’ " and getting a response in unison from the players, "Passing!"
After the presentations and team pictures, Patton took photographs of each player with the trophy.
"This was such a beautiful day for all kids in sport, and it was great to see this particular team reaching their goals and reach this level of success," said Shawna Nagler-Neufeld, president of the St. Charles Soccer Association, which oversees soccer in IRCOM’s district.
"The St. Charles Soccer Association promotes this level of soccer for the inclusion of all kids. It’s amazing to see the community that is being built within the program that IRCOM runs."
The IRCOM team received funding from KidSport Manitoba and the General Council of Winnipeg’s Community Centres to assist with registration, uniform and equipment costs, and WYSA helped by making sure league games were nearby because many of the players’s families don’t have access to transportation. IRCOM staff transport the players to games out of the area.