Soccer as a Symbol of Hope

by British Columbia Division
Categories: Blog, Community
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Soccer, the beautiful game that transcends boundaries and unites people around the world, has become more than just a sport for the community gathered under the caring wings of Captain Carlos Cuellar of The Salvation Army’s Anchor of Hope. His vision, ignited by a profound love for the game and a desire to foster unity, gave birth to the Indoor Soccer program in 2020. Four years later, it’s still not about the goals scored or matches won, but about the profound impact it has on the lives it touches. 

In the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, among the clients of Salvation Army shelters, a diverse tapestry of humanity converges on the soccer field. Pastor Carlos, with eyes gleaming with hope, describes it as a melting pot of nationalities, where language barriers dissolve in the universal language of soccer. Whether from Afghanistan, Africa, South America, or Central America, they find common ground, stitching bonds of camaraderie through every pass and goal.

Yet, challenges to continue the program keep on the mind. The scarcity of space and equipment, the ebb and flow of participants hindered by life’s demands – these are the hurdles they face. But within this arena, hope shines brighter. Here, age or skill level doesn’t matter; everyone is welcomed with open arms. The logistics are handled with care by the members of the Anchor Hope Community Church, ensuring that every participant feels valued and supported. 

Each kick of the ball echoes a different story, a unique journey of resilience and hope. For Mohammad Yasin Jamali, a refugee haunted by the echoes of war in his homeland, soccer becomes a sanctuary. His eyes reflect a longing for his family left behind, among the chaos, he finds solace on the field, chasing dreams of a brighter future in Canada together.

Alongside Mohammad stands Arash Mehrgan, whose life took turbulent turns before finding comfort in the game he loves. Starting as an entrepreneur, a knee injury led to an addiction to painkillers and eventually homelessness. Battling addiction and homelessness, he found redemption through the compassionate embrace of The Salvation Army and the healing power of soccer. Through sweat and determination, he is rebuilding his life, one kick at a time, supported by a community that understands his struggles. 

Their stories intertwine on the field, weaving a tapestry of resilience and redemption. With every pass, they rewrite their narratives, turning despair into triumph, pain into joy. On the court they find not only a relief from their troubles but also a glimpse of the possibilities that tomorrow holds. 

For in the game of soccer, they find not only a means of escape but also a beacon of light guiding them towards a future filled with promise. And as they walk off the field, heads held high, they carry with them the belief that no matter the challenges they face, as long as they have hope to win this game of life, they can conquer anything that comes their way. 

 

The Anchor of Hope is looking for help to be able to continue running this program. If you would like to support, please consider:

  • Donating sports equipment: Help us keep the game going by donating soccer balls, jerseys, cleats, and other essential gear 
  • Volunteering your time: Join our coaching staff or assist with organizing games and events to support our players. 

To learn more about how you can support our Indoor Soccer program or to make a donation, please contact jenny.marin@salvationarmy.ca or call 604-844-3542

To stay up-to-date with the Anchor of Hope follow the Facebook page: facebook.com/anchorofhopevancouver