Comox Valley street soccer highlighted this year by Western Canada qualifier

Maple Pool United's second season of street soccer in the Comox Valley will include the Western Canadian qualifier June 29 at Lewis Park.

THE STREET SOCCER season begins locally April 4

Maple Pool United’s second season of street soccer in the Comox Valley will include the Western Canadian qualifier June 29 at Lewis Park.

Teams from Calgary, Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria will compete against players from Maple Pool United for spots on Canada’s national street soccer teams that will travel to Poznań, Poland for the 2013 Homeless World Cup.

The local season kicks off April 4 at Maple Pool Campground and RV Park on Headquarters Road in Courtenay.

Grant Shilling, an outreach worker at the Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society, started a local street soccer program last spring with a handful of players. It provides an opportunity for homeless and marginalized individuals to exercise, socialize and compete in a fun environment.

Unlike 11-aside soccer, street soccer involves four-player teams that play on a field about 22 metres long with hockey-size nets.

The program has been nothing short of a resounding success.

By summer, Maple Pool United had competed at street soccer tournaments in Victoria and Kelowna. The latter was the Western Canadian qualifier for last fall’s Homeless World Cup in Mexico City.

Representatives from Street Soccer Canada named United’s Joan Mathias to the women’s national team that competed in Mexico.

“Now we’re hosting the tournament to send the next bunch off,” Shilling said.

Shilling encourages anyone interested in trying the sport — and possibly landing a trip to Poland — to drop by Maple Pool Thursday at 4 p.m.

The program runs weekly.

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