We’re Number One!
That was the chant from Canada’s mixed team at the 2014 Homeless World Cup of Soccer in Santiago, Chile on Sunday as they defeated South Korea 6-3 to win the INSP Cup. And they did it with Courtenay’s Christine Watson in their lineup.
The 41-year-old, wearing jersey number 2, plays locally with Maple Pool United
“I am so excited to be representing the Comox Valley, Canada, and all my teammates and friends at Maple Pool,” said Watson at a car wash fundraiser at Finneron Hyundai prior to the tournament.
Operating at the Maple Pool Campground, the local street soccer program enables homeless and marginalized individuals to exercise, socialize and compete in a fun environment. The sport involves four-person teams that play on a field about 22 metres long with hockey-size nets. The program is an initiative of the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society.
Officials from Street Soccer Canada named Watson to the women’s squad following the Western Canadian qualifier in North Vancouver in May. President Paul Gregory said she was selected for her determination, discipline and tenacious defence.
“Christine has committed herself to soccer with Maple Pool United,” said coach/co-ordinator Grant Shilling, a Dawn to Dawn outreach worker. “She plays with a fierce tenacity. It characterizes the spirit of someone who has survived a horrific dog attack, numerous surgeries and terrible trauma — and still loves dogs and life.”
After being attacked by a pit bull in 1999, Watson underwent eight reconstructive surgeries to repair the muscle in her cheek and around her mouth. She still suffers migraines, which is part of the reason she can’t work full-time. She receives disability assistance, supplementing her income with a paper route. She has been on a methadose recovery program for about eight years.
This is the third consecutive year that a player from Maple Pool United has been selected for the world street soccer championships. Joan Mathias played at the 2012 tournament in Mexico, and Heath Young was selected for last year’s event in Poland.
“Maple Pool United is developing into a hotbed of street soccer talent,” Gregory said. “There must be something in the water there. Full marks to Grant Shilling for developing this program.”
The Homeless World Cup is a network of 70 international organizations that use soccer to improve the lives of homeless and marginalized people. The 12th annual tournament ran from Oct. 19-26 at Plaza de Armas in central Santiago.
– with a file from Scott Stanfield