REACH Edmonton

After a decade of connecting more than 10,000 kids with free soccer programming, Edmonton’s Free Footie is expanding its scope.

“Free Footie is a totally free after school club for some of our most vulnerable kids in Edmonton,” said Tim Adams, founder of Free Footie.

The program provides free uniforms, equipment, coaching and busing to and from games.

“This year we’ve added other sports to the mix. For eight weeks this fall, we bussed 300 kids to Churchill Square to play street hockey,” said Adams. “Our goal is simply to give kids a chance to play another sport and introduce them to a game Canada is crazy about.

“We hope that playing a little hockey might make it easier to join in on the conversation on the playground or at the bus stop when everyone is talking about last night’s Oilers game,” said Adams.

To help with that, Free Hockey kicked off its first season by teaming up with former Edmonton Oilers Captain Andrew Ference.

“He helped us deliver the hockey sticks and jerseys as well as teach the kids how to tape,” said Adams.  

The kids are given free jerseys and sticks and placed on teams every game day.

“We wanted to branch out to hockey because it’s a great way to introduce newcomers to their new city and country,” said Adams. “If they get a chance to play hockey in a safe, accessible environment, it makes it that much easier to play with other kids on playgrounds and in their neighbourhoods.”

The aim is to support newcomer children in transitioning into their new Canadian lives.

“Sport isn’t the real focus,” said Adams. “Sport is simply a tool to connect kids and create a strong community.”