One small gesture can change a child’s life forever.

Just ask Lindsay Scott, a local soccer coach who is extremely proud of the Meadow Lake and District Youth Soccer Association’s decision to provide each and every one of its athletes this season their very own soccer ball.

“The soccer club has a whole bunch of extra balls this year, so I suggested we could hand out a ball to each one of the kids,” Scott explained. “The club was fully in for that – to give each kid a free ball. I was so blown away by the club’s generosity to these kids. There is so much heart being put into it – it’s amazing.”

Scott went on to explain how a similar gesture on the part of one of her childhood soccer coaches had a profound impact on her involvement in the sport.

“Growing up, I came from kind of a poor situation and one of my soccer coaches gave me a ball for free,” she said. “That small move encouraged me so much it eventually brought me to the point where I was going to premier league, I was playing for a national team – just from that one little gesture. It changed my whole life. That’s why I believe it is so amazing our club is doing this. I’ve been playing soccer since I was four years old, but never have I seen this happen for an entire team let alone an entire club.”

According to Meadow Lake and District Youth Soccer Association president Raelynn Gilroyed, 106 children are registered for the 2021 soccer season which officially got underway Monday (May 10).

“We’ve decided, as an association, equality is key in our program,” Gilroyed said. “We want to make sure the kids all are able to receive a ball at the start of the season. This way, if they don’t have the ability to obtain one in their home environment, they can still have the option of putting in that extra effort at home if they choose.”

Gilroyed said the club cycles out its soccer balls every so many years and, as such, new balls were purchased this year resulting in there being enough left over to provide each player with one of their own.

“As an association, we want our kids to know we are supporting them when they’re on the field and when they’re at home,” Gilroyed added. “We want to help make sure they are well-prepared for the fundamentals of soccer.”

In addition to the 106 players, 12 coaches are signed on to help out with the various teams this season.

“Some of us are doubling up,” Gilroyed said. “Unfortunately we didn’t reach our coaching criteria this year, but we’re still looking forward to a start back at soccer, and not prolonging things anymore because of COVID-19. We are happy we were given the go-ahead from the Saskatchewan Soccer Association (SSA) – it’s really great to see it can still happen.”

by Phil Ambroziak