Kids in Elmwood will soon be able to get their kicks free of charge.
The Elmwood Community Resource Centre’s Youth in Elmwood Arts and Recreation program (YEAR), along with the Youth Agencies Alliance and the University of Winnipeg, is offering no-cost soccer camps to kids aged 12 to 19 this summer.
The camps will take place at the Elmwood Winter Club at 75 Brazier St. every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. from June 15 to Aug. 3; and every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. from June 18 to July 30
YEAR co-ordinator Dina LaBillois said she’s noticed local youth clamouring for such a program.
"There’s a big demand for soccer among teenagers in this neighbourhood," said LaBillois. "Kids are constantly talking about the costs and (the sport) being inaccessible to them — not just in Elmwood but citywide — because of cost."
The University of Winnipeg’s Futsal program, which features Wesmen players, is a fixture in the West End, having served approximately 160 kids this past year. YEAR facilitator Bryan Dueck said the goal is to eventually have the Elmwood players take on other kids in the program with a tournament in mid-July.
Dueck said the camps will likely be split into multiple groups based on age and skill level.
"We hope kids learn ball control, teamwork, set plays, even simple things such as striking," he said. "We know the older kids in our group right now are quite skilled, but they don’t have the resources to play organized soccer."
University of Winnipeg men’s soccer coach Pedro Daza will head up the camp. Daza has seen the results in the West End, and is excited to bring the program to his home neighbourhood.
"When I came to Canada myself, I came to the inner city — I used to live on Langside (Street) — we didn’t have these opportunities," said Daza, who is originally from Chile. "When I came to be the coach of the Wesmen, that was one of my goals, to put back into the community, especially the kids that come here from other countries."
Registration is encouraged, but not required. Those interested can register by contacting LaBillois at email@example.com or 204-982-1720, ext. 209.
Organizers hope for about 40 kids initially, but say they can handle more participants if the interest is there.
LaBillois said the program is in need of equipment such as cleats and shin guards. Anyone looking to donate can contact her at the ECRC.
As well, the ECRC will offer golf instruction at the Elmwood Winter Club from July 23 to 25. Details such as instructors and times are still being confirmed.