Strangers press money into hand of Mexico-bound ‘soccer star’ in Courtenay

Joan Mathias leans on a picnic table, stretching her calves before taking to the soccer pitch at Maple Pool Campsite in Courtenay.

JOAN MATHIAS (left) of the Maple Pool United soccer team receives gift certificates from Vanier student Simone Bardonner. Joan is competing at the Homeless World Cup in Mexico City.

JOAN MATHIAS (left) of the Maple Pool United soccer team receives gift certificates from Vanier student Simone Bardonner. Joan is competing at the Homeless World Cup in Mexico City.

Joan Mathias leans on a picnic table, stretching her calves before taking to the soccer pitch at Maple Pool Campsite in Courtenay.

It’s a precautionary measure to prevent injury during her final practice before departing for the Homeless World Cup of Soccer in Mexico City. She ferried to Vancouver on Wednesday and flew out of the country Thursday, en route to what promises to be an adventure of a lifetime.

“I can’t believe I’m leaving tomorrow,” she said Tuesday.

Joan is a member of the Maple Pool United street soccer team, which formed this year out of the Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society street soccer program.

Following the Western Canadian qualifying tournament in Kelowna, Street Soccer Canada selected her for the Canadian women’s team that competes Oct. 6 to 14 in Mexico. The tournament is expected to include teams from nearly 60 countries.

Joan notes the generosity of Comox Bay Care Society volunteers at the Care-A-Van, who donated several sleeveless tops for her trip.

“Clothing is an issue for me, so they donated a bunch of pretty tops, and they gave me pesos to spend in Mexico,” said Joan, who twice ventured to Victoria in a short span of time to secure a passport.

The society also gave her a new pair of cleats and soccer socks.

When she went into Extreme Runners, staff donated two pairs of used runners. Within about 20 minutes of wearing the runners, a pain in one of her knees had mostly disappeared.

“It was amazing,” Joan said. “The two ladies — I didn’t get their names — they said, ‘You’re the girl that’s going to Mexico.’ We ended up crying and hugging each other when I left. It was just so emotional.”

Joan grew up in Alberta but has lived on Vancouver Island more than 30 years, the past eight in Courtenay. The Dawn to Dawn client is a self-professed ‘sport nut’ who used to  live for baseball. The soccer program has inspired her to quit smoking.

Joan’s adventure has inspired various random acts of kindness. One anonymous individual donated $200 in Mexican pesos to help fund her trip.

“People just come up to me and hand me $20. ‘You’re the soccer star,’ and they say ‘Here, this is for your trip.’ I got $10 bills and $20 bills. It’s like, Oh my goodness,” she says with an infectious laugh.

“I’m floored, really. It’s amazing how quickly the community just gets together and helps everyone out.”

Tim Krutzmann’s Grade 9/10 leadership class at Vanier Secondary has also contributed to the soccer program. Students organized a bake sale that raised $230, with another $50 from Top Notch Soccer. The $280 contribution is in the form of gift certificates to the Courtenay store.

Krutzmann had asked the class for ideas for a spirit event.

“I came up with the idea and we went with it,” said Grade 10 student Simone Bardonner, who has been keeping in contact with Joan. “I thought we could probably do something to support her.”

Simone presented Joan with the money Tuesday at Maple Pool.

“The community has really gotten behind her (Joan) and the idea,” said Grant Shilling, who co-ordinates the local street soccer program. “We’re most appreciative.”

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

Just Posted

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
SD71 identifies eight positive cases of COVID-19 and instructs 108 people to self-isolate

The letter noted that all who have tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Geoff Garbutt takes over as City of Courtenay CAO on April 14. Photo supplied
Courtenay council selects new city CAO

A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be joining the City of… Continue reading

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The Town of Comox will formally examine speeding within the town. Black Press file photo
Comox to examine speeding within town

Following discussions at various council meetings, Comox council will formally examine speeding… Continue reading

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Man arrested after allegedly punching Burnaby Canadian Tire staff over mask rule

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

A conceptual drawing of the preferred conveyance route for the Comox Valley Sewer Service.
Preferred conveyance route chosen for Comox Valley Sewer Service

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission approved a plan Tuesday to upgrade the… Continue reading

Most Read