Courtenay player picked to represent Canada at Homeless World Cup

Joan Mathias of Courtenay has been selected to play on the Canadian women's team at the Homeless World Cup of soccer next month.

MAPLE POOL UNITED player Joan Mathias (second from left) will play at the Homeless World Cup of soccer next month in Mexico City.

MAPLE POOL UNITED player Joan Mathias (second from left) will play at the Homeless World Cup of soccer next month in Mexico City.

If there’s such a thing as Cloud 10, Joan Mathias has found it.

The Courtenay resident, a member of the Maple Pool United street soccer team, has been selected to play on the Canadian women’s team at the Homeless World Cup of soccer next month in Mexico City.

Officials from Street Soccer Canada made the selection last weekend at the Western Canadian qualifier in Kelowna, where Mathias and four Maple Pool teammates competed.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Mathias said. “It (Kelowna) was just phenomenal. What a great memory we just created. The journey was good, and it hasn’t stopped yet.”

Formed this year out of the Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society street soccer program, Maple Pool United competed at its first tournament this summer in Victoria. The team practises weekly at Maple Pool Campground in Courtenay. The program provides an opportunity for homeless and marginalized individuals to exercise and socialize, and to engage in competition.

In Kelowna, the squad was outfitted with soccer shirts, shorts, socks and shin pads.

“We met some really interesting people,” said Mathias, noting a goalkeeper who played at last year’s Homeless World Cup in Paris. “We learned a lot. It was well worth the trip.”

Maple Pool United played several games in one day, including matches against Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver.

“It was a total test on our bodies,” said Mathias, who scored a goal in a 3-2 loss against the Vancouver side. It was the first time Maple Pool has held a lead in a game.

“What a great feeling when you see that ball go into the net.”

The local side improved considerably after receiving some pointers on positioning and defending from a member of Street Soccer Canada’s scouting crew.

In street soccer, four-player teams compete on a field about 22 metres long with hockey-size nets.

The program has provided Mathias an opportunity to rediscover her sporting past.

“I’ve always been a sport nut,” she said. “I lived for baseball, actually.”

Like many athletes, Mathias has been sidelined by injury. In her case it was a neck injury, for which she has undergone surgery.

“I never did fully recover from it,” she said. “I live with chronic pain. The soccer helps me focus on something other than my pain.”

But she’s not one to complain.

“I suck it up and just live.”

She has also quit smoking — a testament to the physical fitness component of the street soccer program.

“We’re very fortunate to be a part of Dawn to Dawn,” said Mathias, who receives patches each week from the Care-A-Van mobile medical unit.

“I’m very grateful. I’m just glad that we were able to do this trip. I’m at a loss for words.”

Next year, the Comox Valley will host the Western Canadian qualifier for the Homeless World Cup. Games will be played at the Lewis Centre in Courtenay.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve only been playing soccer for six months,” Mathias said. “So much good is happening. This is definitely my year.”

Along with Dawn to Dawn and Street Soccer Canada, Maple Pool United has been supported by the Comox, Strathcona Sunrise and Courtenay Rotary clubs.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Comox Valley RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

A Coast Range Cannabis store has been approved for the Crown Isle Shopping Centre in Courtenay. Photo submitted
Courtenay council approves seventh cannabis retailer

Coast Range Cannabis to open second store in the Comox Valley

A map of the Village Forest Lands near Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland
Cumberland adopts forest management direction statement

Less detailed than full plan, documents sets out decision-making for village-owned land

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Vancouver Island RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Most Read