August 20, 2018: Jean Claude Munyezamu, of Soccer Without Boundaries (SWB) Soccer Without Boundaries
Bill Lawless introduced our guest speaker, Jean Claude Munyezamu, executive director and founder of Soccer Without Boundaries (SWB). It is an organization devoted to providing identity, growth opportunities and friendship through learning and advancing skills in playing soccer.
Calgary West provided his organization with a van (which was parked outside our meeting room) to transport players to the field, teams to tournaments, and equipment to where it is needed. He expressed his thanks, telling us how much the van enables to organization to be much more effective and serve more young players.
He said that our gift changes the life of youths, many of whom are new to Canada, in allowing them to achieve more and gain a sense of self worth through their accomplishments on the field. He spoke of the generosity of organizations such as ours and of individuals. As an example, he asked for a used soccer ball, and instead was given 20 new balls!
Those participating come from many countries, and through cooperation learn that race is irrelevant to belonging. Graduates of his programs often help, working at bench side providing water to athletes and being assistant coaches. Graduates are often very successful. From his program there are currently three studying at university, and one went to the UK to participate in a top soccer school.
Jean Claude began the SWB program in 2010 with 30 students. Now he sets a limit of 120 participants, as this is the maximum the program can effectively handle. They do after-school enrichment programs, and run soccer camps all summer. Upon completion of the program, students are given a soccer ball and a water bottle to signify their achievement.
They operate on a $100,000 budget, most of that coming from donations and sponsorships. While they lived here, Tracey and Andrew Bitcon, at the time members of our club, were major supporters of SWB. Jean Claude left us with a profound thought: Poverty is not how little money you have, it is lack of access.
We know what we can do about that to build the future for young people. It’s what we do as Rotarians.
Kurt Schurer thanked Jean Claude, and presented him with a Motive Action-produced Bolt Man.
reported by Don Campbell
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