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Collicutt School soccer community thriving with new nets

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At Collicutt School, some of Winnipeg’s most passionate soccer fans are students in Grade 3 with a serious attitude to play.

“I get to score goals, amazing goals, and to have fun,” said Apsan, a student in Grade 3 at Collicutt School.

Students like Apsan and others were thrilled this week to learn the school would be receiving state-of-the-art soccer nets.

For more than 15 years, old wooden planks represented goalposts at each end of the school’s field.

Coun. Devi Sharma, who represents Old Kildonan, heard from constituents that the old posts fell in disrepair and helped facilitate a replacement.

The new nets - which came in at a $6,000 price tag - are part of a recreation project for the City of Winnipeg celebrating 150 years. The councillor was thrilled to give back to the Seven Oaks School Division she graduated from.

“Investing in outdoor play equipment is an investment in our mental and physical health, which we all need,” Sharma said.

“When we invest in equipment like this, you don't want the bottom of the barrel. You want something that's going to last.”

'Those are things that we normally would never really be able to afford'

When it comes to the school’s budget, Principal Jamil Mian said money is tight for recreational programming. Brand new equipment is something he never dreamed was on the horizon for his school.

“Big purchases that are amazing, like soccer nets, those are things that we normally would never really be able to afford,” Mian said.

“It would take years of planning and saving to be able to get something, even close to that.”

Mian was thrilled to see his students welcome the new equipment and said they are determined to play all year if they can.

“This community in particular, soccer is just something that kids do ten months a year, like in the winter when it's -30C, when it's raining, they're out there playing soccer,” Mian said.

“Kids are amazing. They're so modest. They will play anywhere and everywhere. It's a great way for kids to feel like, 'Hey, you deserve this.'”

Valour FC players joined in the celebration at the school for a pickup game with students. Captain Raphael Ohin who has been with the squad since their inaugural season had a big smile seeing the enthusiasm from the energetic youth.

“Just like the feeling of having a new ball or having a new goal net, I know it's just like every young kid's dream and we just want to shoot, you know, just play all day,” Ohin said.

“It is beautiful, you know, the smile says it all.”

For Indigenous students like Hadon in Grade 5, playing soccer is a way to promote greater representation.

“There's not that much Indigenous soccer players. I want to be a role model to all those Indigenous kids and people,” Hadon said.

Sharma said the donation to Collicutt School would not have been possible without the support of Winnipeg North Sports Group, Garden City Community Centre and Valour FC.

“This year in particular, the City of Winnipeg is celebrating 150 years, so it's extra special to do this project and many more recreation projects to come.”

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