'It would be very devastating': Competitive soccer team made up of newcomers struggling to pay fees
Published Monday, April 16, 2018 3:46PM CST
Last Updated Monday, April 16, 2018 7:15PM CST
A competitive soccer team made up mostly of newcomers to Canada is worried about having to fold before the spring season even gets underway.
The Wasps Football Club is made up of players from Africa, South America, Europe and Winnipeg. They come from different cultures and countries, but all share a love for soccer.
“You can see everyone is like one spirit, one heart and when you are here you are home," said Hubert Akilimali, 34, originally from Congo.
The team was formed out of an idea that originally came from Jean-Baptiste Ajua, a talented University of Manitoba runner who came to Canada from Rwanda.
In 2016, the 22-year-old drowned at Birds Hill Provincial Park. He never saw the team come together, so his friends decided to make the team a reality anyway.
“JB would be like so happy right now. I could feel his energy. This is totally his dream. This is his world. We're living it for him,” said Mario Pereira, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Portugal in the 1970s and plays with the Wasps F.C."
This will be the Wasps F.C. second season. Last year the team placed second in Manitoba’s second highest soccer division.
But skill and strong bonds have also led to struggling times.
The team has about 20 players. It includes refugees, students and fathers, many of whom are trying come up with the fees to play with the Wasps F.C..
“We’ve got guys doing two, three jobs,” said Patrick Nahayo, 35, from Rwanda.
“If we don’t meet the payments, they might not take us,” he said. “They might have to make another team.”
The Wasps F.C. said it costs them close to $4,500 to play in the Manitoba Major Soccer League, about $250 per player. The money is due at the end of the month.
Add in costs to rent space for practice, cleats, jerseys, and finding the funds is a challenge. The team doesn't want to fold.
“It would be very devastating,” said Pereira, adding that there are many team members who “would have nowhere to go, nowhere to train, and we make that a home for them.”
The Wasps F.C. is hopeful. It has been fundraising and looking for sponsors to solve their financial problems. The meaning behind the team name, said Pereira, is “small with a big fight.”
Players said their love of the game may not be enough to keep them together. They don’t want to break-up, and they're ready to compete.
The Manitoba Soccer Association said Monday it has no comment on the team's financial issues.
The Wasps F.C. said the next round of fees is due April 28.
The team's first game is scheduled to take place in mid-May.